2019 is setting and 2020 is on the horizon. With this comes a lot of reflection and forward thinking. This time of year is used by many as a time to look at what has worked, what hasn’t worked and to set goals for this new beginning. Social media and other media advertisements will be full of new ways to improve yourself and be better. Now, I am not going to use this post as a means of bashing goals or self-care at all. Instead, I am considering the important difference between rules verses guidelines.
I was recently reading in Ephesians and came across several things that at first glance looked like just a list of rules from God. It just did not feel right so I read them again and again. I paused and thought about what He was really saying to me. God is love. Love is not just rules. It is more than “because He says so”. Love is shown in relationships. God is shown in relationships. Therefore, these words have to do with relationships.
The end of Ephesians Chapter 4 tell us to speak truth with our neighbor, don’t go to bed angry, don’t steal, and don’t let corrupt words come out of our mouth. I can treat these as just rules that God says I must follow, but I will quickly fail. I will not keep up something that I do not truly understand. When I focus on just trying to obey, it is strictly from duty and not love. Looking at them as guidelines changes the perspective for me. These are guidelines that affect the path our actions and conversations go down. These are guidelines that lead to action instead of reacting. These are guidelines that allow us to love and to be loved.
Anger is an emotion. It is an emotion that is okay to have. It is true. There is nothing wrong with anger. Anger (or any other emotion) tells us something is wrong, so then we can address the source. However, when the anger remains unrecognized and unresolved, it takes control and drives. This is where relationships are hurt. This is where love is not shared or received. Going to bed and continuing to be angry drives a wedge in relationships and communication. Stealing from others, lying, and speaking harshly does the same thing. God is saying these things because He cares about us. He cares about relationships. He cares about love.
As we look at the new year ahead of us I encourage you to think about the true meaning behind your goals and desires. Don’t just set a list of rules for yourself to blindly follow. Take time to think about what is really behind those desires. What would guidelines look like for you instead of rules? Is love driving or is it self-doubt, self-pity, frustration, comparison, etc.? God is not just telling us to do something. He is saying it because He knows the effects. Don’t just tell yourself to do something. Dig deeper and ask yourself what is really behind it.
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