The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. Psalm 103:8 NLT
They were for my good, or so my parents said.
The rules of my childhood were many. I wasn’t sure where Mom stood on some meticulous matters, but I didn’t have to wonder where Dad did. He made it clear through the rules he framed and hung on my bedroom wall and in the messages he preached.
Dad was a fundamentalist—and proud of it. We didn’t belong to a denomination known for legalistic views, but he held them nevertheless. Women weren’t supposed to wear pants or cut their hair. Movies were off limits and so was playing cards. Shopping on Sunday was forbidden.
I can’t remember all the rules, but the “forbidden things” list was lengthy. I grew up wondering whether or not I could please this God my parents wanted me to believe in. I pictured Him sitting in heaven waiting for me to mess up so He could make my life miserable.
But when I read what Jesus taught about the Heavenly Father, I began to think this God was more loving than Dad’s rules made Him appear. The psalmist evidently thought so too.
Over the years, my view of God changed. It had to if I was going to love and serve Him. I didn’t discard my belief that God has standards and will discipline me when I go astray, but I did let go of the legalistic mindset.
Although salvation is free, the many rules I was supposed to keep made it appear I had to earn it. I couldn’t then and can’t now. God gives salvation out of love, compassion, and mercy. Grace is His unmerited favor. I can’t do enough good to place Him under obligation to me.
God wants a relationship. Yes, He has rules—just as parents and societies—but the relationship is more about love, enjoyment, and abundant living. Obeying His rules—not manmade interpretations of them—makes those things possible. And He’s not perching in heaven waiting for me to mess up, but gently guiding me down the right path.
God’s grace is amazing. He doesn’t overlook sin, but neither does He burden us with meticulous rules that take away the joy of our journey with Him. Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders prove that.
Enjoy your journey with God. His grace is amazing and His love unending.
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Prayer: Father, thank You for Your grace that makes it possible for us to have a relationship with You.