There is a wide array of topics covered in our 5 chapters this week including lawsuits, sexual practices, marriage, personal rights and responsibilities and idolatry. If we aren’t careful we can fall into the trap of legalism where we believe we are ok with God because we follow all the rules He has laid out. The opposite danger is abandoning God because His rules seem too restrictive. Unfortunately both of these approaches are popular today. The only approach that leads a person to a genuine and life changing relationship with God is one that starts before addressing any of the lifestyle guidelines we see in the Bible. This beginning place is recognizing that only God can forgive my sinful and self-centered nature and give me hope both now and forever. By accepting Jesus I enter into a brand new life where God is both my Savior and Friend. The healthy response to this new life is simply gratitude. Recognizing that He has not given me what I deserve (eternal separation) but what I need. And all of this through Jesus sacrificial death on the cross.
Additionally, knowing that He has gone to the greatest lengths to provide for me to be rescued, I have every reason to trust Him as He guides me into living this new life. Gratitude fuels obedience but a lack of gratitude leads to complaining, bitterness and rebellion (see chapter 10).
I understand that some of the Bible’ standards for personal and social behavior seem antiquated by modern norms. I also know that those who reject God’s wisdom pay a high price sooner or later. When we approach God’s instructions from a “but that is so limiting” perspective we can quickly get frustrated and irritated because we feel restricted. But when we approach God’s instructions from the starting place of gratitude it changes everything because we know He can be trusted and is much wiser than we are!
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:15-17 (NIV)