Rules of Thumb for Keeping Unity In Your Local Church – #16-20

It’s time again for another installment of the list.  I’ve received some good comments from some people.  I’ve received some comments that proves the point of these rules.  I know some people shrink back at the word “rules” equating it with legalism.  Maybe I should just say that “rules of thumb” generally mean the same thing as “guidelines?”

16.  What’s important today probably won’t be all that important tomorrow.  Take a day to pray about it before you turn it into a big deal.

17.  Trust me – This side of eternity, you won’t ever know the true extent of the sacrifices people are making.  Don’t treat each other on the basis of what you think they are sacrificing.

18.  Don’t second guess God working in the life of someone.

19.  The local church is not designed to be a business development environment.  The other people in the pews are not “prospects” to get involved in your ventures.  We are here to worship.

20.  People need Christ where they are, not where you want them to be.

The Body Is Not A Ladder – Galatians 5:26

(Galatians 5:26)  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Evidently, the battle over legalism in Galatia was far more than a doctrinal disagreement.  Because their lives were out of step with the Holy Spirit, there was religious competition.  Regardless of how holy they appeared, it was all an exercise in self-glorification.  Some lived in self-conceit believing they were more holy than others.  They challenged each other in the spirit of religious competitiveness.  Because they did not see each other as individual and equal members of the Body of Christ, they became jealous of the position or service of each another.  This is the fruit of legalism.

Doctrine believed always produces fruit in the lives of those who believe it.  Legalism creates an attitude of superiority.  When you and I look at another Christian, do we see them as an equal member of the same Body of Christ?  Or do we hold them in contempt because they don’t measure up to our standard or our perception of what a Christian should be?  Sometimes we use church attendance, Bible knowledge, or ability to speak the right terminology as means to evaluate the maturity of others.  Do we roll our eyes and mumble under our breath when another Christian doesn’t “get it?”  Instead of letting the Holy Spirit perform His work; do we feel the need to “fix” everyone who doesn’t make the grade in our eyes?  This is the fruit of legalism.

Some believe the Body of Christ is structured like rungs on a ladder.  Those who “know what we know,” “practice the way we practice,” or “say what we say” are esteemed to be higher on the ladder.  Those who don’t do these things occupy the lower rungs.  They are the “less mature,” or so it is thought.  Ultimately, those who think this way serve the Lord for self-glorification and self-gratification.  This is the fruit of legalism.

The key in this verse is contained in three words:  Let us not.  This means we have the choice to walk in the Spirit or in the flesh.  We can choose to gratify our selves or glorify the Lord.  Grace gives us freedom to choose God and deny ourselves.  We can see others for who they really are in Christ.  We can lay aside our denominational and organizational judgments and truly operate on the basis of equality and love.  This is the fruit of grace.

Renewed Thought – Let the Father be the Father, let the Son be the Son, let the Spirit be the Spirit.  The last time I checked, there were no job vacancies in the Trinity. – GJC