The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love
I was studying my bible yesterday while sitting in the van waiting for my children to get out of school and this verse jumped out at me. In context, Paul is writing to the church in Galatia because they are falling back into trying to live according to the law because some in the community are teaching them that they must. This verse specifically deals with circumcision and Paul is informing the readers that as far as Christ is concerned, circumcision has no value, that all that does matter is faith. This really struck home with me.
I did not make the decision to follow Christ when I was a child, I waited until I was in my late 20's. At the time I felt like there were just to many rules to follow and I wanted to live my life. I can see these same thoughts rolling around in the head of one of my children as well. When I became a Christian I still felt that I was supposed to be following a set of rules. No one told me what they were and I couldn't find a list in the Bible either so I started to make my own based upon what I read. It became a long list of Do Not... That became very discouraging. Like the Israelites in the Old Testament I couldn't live under the law. I failed often. Sometimes it was something little and others it was something big. I was living my Christian life feeling like a failure and missing out on the best part of being a child of God. I felt like I was constantly disappoint God by failing. If I was the disappointment I thought I was, how could He possibly love me?
The pastor at the church I attend now has been preaching that God knows we can't follow the rules, and He loves us anyway. That our salvation is a free gift, and our actions after we take the gift won't cause Him to take it back. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. All He wants from us is love. We show this by spending time with Him. By trying to make Him happy. My list of don'ts were not a pass/fail test in which God says if you don't do it right I'm outta here. Rather, God says, "If you do these things they are going to cause you pain and I want to protect you from that." We do the same as parents with our children.
Our rules are not created to make their life harder. We don't stop loving them when they make a mistake, make bad choices, or rebel against us. We stll love them, we are still their parent. We may tell them that we don't accept what they are doing and that it is not allowed with us, but we will still be there when they turn away from it...waiting with open arms. If we as people are capable of that, how much more is our Heavenly Father capable? His pain seeing us make wrong choices must be greater than our own. By the same reasoning His love must be stronger than our own also! What a comforting thought.
So I have given up my list of rules. Now I only have one rule to live by - act as if I am doing everything for someone I love. The truth of the matter is that if I do this, every other rule I had is taken care of.
Have a wonderful day!