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The Rules Get in the Way

Rules certainly have their place. They try to protect us. They try to help us. They are needed in many areas of our lives and they’re there for a reason.

I think we get in trouble though when we apply our rules to God.

He has His character and word that He will not violate, but our thoughts on His character and word do not bind Him. If we don’t realize that, we’ll miss the wonderful ways He moves.

If God abided by man’s thoughts on the rules, most of us wouldn’t know about Jesus. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:4-6,

4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

The rules said that Israel was blessed and special, that they are heirs of the promise (all of this was and is still true). The rules excluded Gentiles, but God’s promise to Abraham was that all nations would be blessed through his seed.

God’s rule always trumps our rules.

He makes the rules so He isn’t bound to our interpretation to them. He does miracles in all sorts of small and great ways, and we are thankful. Even when He shows up and does amazing things, we can set up rules based on these past experiences or how we’ve been taught, but God is bigger than all of that. He’s continually attempting to show us how big and great He is.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. –Proverbs 3:5-6

My rules have to submit to Him, and in truth, I have to submit them because they’ll kick and scream until I do. My understanding is limited (and that is the understatement of eternity), but His is infinite. I want to trust Him with the people, situations, and everything in my life. I want to be able to see His miracles.

How about you? Have you seen your rules stand in the way of God? Have you experienced God blowing past your rules in a big or small way?

24 Comments

  1. Man, when I was younger I was really legalistic. it wasn’t until I got older that I finally understood.

    • Grace is so good! So thankful for God’s provision and love in all those areas. Thanks Michael.

  2. I am a rule person. I like it when I have guidelines because then I know how I’m doing, compared to how I’m supposed to be. I hate it when people break the rules. It offends me. BUT…God has been teaching me that the rules need to be less important than the person. The same goes with Him. If I focus too much on the rules I’m supposed to follow, I miss out on the relationship with Him. This post encouraged me today, Jason! Thanks. :)
    Melissa Brotherton recently posted..Checking InMy Profile

    • Don’t worry, I’m in the same boat with you. I like the guidelines and rules, but I’m realizing they can’t be my god or I’m going to sink quick. Thanks Melissa. We’ll walk it out together!

  3. I get what you are saying about God not being bound by our rules.

    But like any loving Father, He gives US rules to follow for our own well being and that of our brothers and sisters. While we can’t make the rules our god, I think we do need to trust that they were given to us by our Father for reasons only He clearly understands.
    Helen recently posted..Merry Twelfth Day of ChristmasMy Profile

    • Definitely true. Never advocate throwing out HIS rules, but they are always in the context of relationship. We can negate His love and mercy by trying to follow our rules about His rules (like the Pharisees) and enter a self-righteousness. We do have to see though that what He gives us to do in the great and small is because of His love and provision. Great thoughts, Helen. Thanks.

  4. We struggle so hard to understand even the concept of God, who exists outside of the ‘rules’ of physics which bind us to this place.

    We can only look with mortal eyes, ruled by four dimensions and thus can’t even begin to understand half of what and who God is.

    This was a great reminder of that today, Jason.
    Peter P recently posted..New List of Blog Carnival WordsMy Profile

    • Exactly! Thanks Peter.

  5. I love the Proverbs verse. I think of it often, because usually I am bent on forging my own path, rather than relying on and submitting to Him. I love rules…my problem is that I try to make them myself, rather than follow the ones already established by God. I think it all comes down to trust — trusting that His will is right and good and will be done. And working on my trust of God is always a work in progress for me!

    Great post, Jason — thanks for making me think today (as always!).
    Michelle DeRusha recently posted..He LeadsMy Profile

    • I’ve said it before and I know I’ll say it again, but you’re not alone! We all fight the urge to make it on our own steam and by our own rules. The world around us honors those types of people, but God honors those who prefer their brothers and walk in surrender to Him in everything. Thanks for your thoughts, Michelle.

  6. breaking free of religeon is tough within itself because of all the rules that have been ingrained into one’s system. yet it seems that at times that the two new commandments that Jesus gave aren’t all that easy either.

    one of my biggest problems is that i often reason things out. it has a tendency to go to my favor rather then His. it’s amazing how much “self” can get in the way of having a good relationship with Him. or as another might call it….”insidious pride.”

    • Yeah, I know what you mean. It takes a daily death to let Jesus arise inside us for His glory. Great thoughts, Bud. Thank you.

  7. I think thinking that God has to follow any rules, or that if we follow all the rules we’re going to be blessed is pretty much putting works before faith. Everything goes back to the motivation of our own hearts. We want grace for ourselves even though we don’t deserve it, but sometimes we see grace extended to others and it makes us mad. At least it does me. God is teaching me every day.
    katdish recently posted..A final Monday by Billy CoffeyMy Profile

    • Yeah, you’re not alone with the being mad thing. It seems so silly when we state it like that, but in those moments it’s really consuming. Here’s to learning every day with you, Kat. Thanks.

  8. for some reason i dont just like rules, they keep me bound in some sort of way. is that good or bad ?

    thanks for sharing
    Rainyjoy recently posted..Meet my slaveMy Profile

    • Ha! I guess that’s the other side of the coin. If you’re not a ‘rule person’ then maybe this isn’t such an issue. Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. I think something that helps is asking where the origin of the rule comes from.

    Did it come from God or from us.

    Now if I can just remember what I just said :-)
    David Knapp recently posted..7 Lies Christians BelieveMy Profile

    • Yeah, I know. It’s all easy to process when you aren’t dealing with it head-on! Thanks David.

  10. I’ve been guilty more than once of trying to make God fit into a neat, tidy box of my own design. You’d think I’d know better by now.

    I always like to point out how Jesus used many different methods to heal people. It’s as if he were instructing us to expect him to work in all sorts of ways at all sorts of times.

    After all, who am I to tell God how to show up?

    • I’ve loved that about Jesus as well. Also, God only split the Red Sea once, demolished Jericho’s walls once, and filled the temple with glory once so that the priests could not minister. Doesn’t mean He can’t or won’t do them again, but so far He’s chosen not to. We just have to trust Him with whatever we’ve got. Thank you, Larry. Appreciate the thoughts.

  11. I wonder what it would look like if His followers really lived like they had His law written on their hearts and not in their books.
    Tony Alicea recently posted..Welcome to Expect The ExceptionalMy Profile

    • It would look really awesome and the world would be a different place. Thank God it’s coming by His grace.

      Thank you, Tony.

  12. Rules are always better in the context of relationship…if we love the Father we will do whatever He asks…

    Good thoughts bro’….thanks!
    Jay Cookingham recently posted..Everyday TestimonyMy Profile

    • That’s the key! Thanks Jay.