We need rules. No question. We can’t live without them.
Having said that. We need to constantly re-evaluate the rules we live by. You see, without even thinking we can make up rules and then insist on keeping them even when it cuts against something more important .
Case in point. Matthew 12:9-13. God made a rule: “No work on the Sabbath.” Actually, that was one of the 10 commandments. But the religious folks added their own rules to that rule. In Jesus’ day they had over 600 rules about what you could or could not do on the Sabbath. And those rules often ran counter to God’s intention. Jesus comes up on a man with a crippled hand.
The rule says no work.
Healing is work. If Jesus heals the man, he breaks the rule.
These legalists would rather let a man suffer than break the Sabbath.
Jesus said, “You make exceptions for your sheep but not a man. That’s crazy.” and then he healed the man.
Our rules can get ridiculous.
Several years ago, I was at a church and we had Vacation Bible School. It was Friday: My day off.
So after the morning events, I went back home to mow the lawn. About 11:00, I got a call. There were four young girls concerned about their salvation, could I come up to talk to them.
I had a dilemma. I was in shorts and a t-shirt. Should I go in, shower, clean up and put on long pants, or just go.
To be honest, I didn’t think about it much. I just went.
Here’s my problem. I can’t remember that I’m a pastor a lot of the time, so I just act like a regular guy. I head to church in shorts and a t-shirt to lead some girls to Jesus. Not really thinking about it.
I went in through the gym to say hi to everybody. I noticed that some of the ladies that worked in the cookies and punch area were cool. I went and led four little girls to Jesus.
Went back home.
On Sunday, I heard about it. “The pastor came to church without pants on!”
I had pants on! They were short pants, but they were pants. Half the people working in VBS had shorts on, but I was the pastor, so several people were upset about that.
Do you feel the irony? I led four children to Jesus that morning, but they weren’t rejoicing over their salvation. They were upset because because the cloth I was wearing on my legs didn’t go all the way down to my ankles.
I broke a rule. You know what? I’d do it again.
Watch your rules. Especially the ones we make up. Never let them get in the way of something really important, like a relationship.