A New Kind of Legalism

What do you think of when you think of legalism? I think of self-righteous people who look down on others for *gasp* drinking beer, or dancing, or playing cards, or… I think of people who look down on a woman who has a sexual past because they can’t seem to understand that the broken woman is a new creation in Christ. To me, these issues seem to be a thing of the past. I don’t live in the Bible belt, so I assume this problem still exists. However, I am surrounded by amazing believers who understand the grace of the Bible. We’re all gross and disgusting sinners. How dare I look down on a sister for her sexual past when bitterness has stripped joy from my life in years past?

However, it seems like there’s a new wave of legalism out there. It’s not about looking down on people for the bad things or sins that they are/were caught up in, but rather it’s about judging others because they’re not DOING something. (And that something is specifically tied to whatever the person is passionate about.) Don’t get me wrong, as Christians we SHOULD be loving others. However, there’s a movement of restless people who think, “If you’re not adopting/working to end human trafficking/feeding the hungry in third world countries/etc. then there’s something lacking in your Christian faith.” or “Look at me, look at what I am doing/did for the gospel, what are you doing?” It’s a haughty, self-righteous attitude.

There are a handful of new books floating around that have changed people’s lives and have spurred them to do amazing things for the gospel. But these same books are fostering this attitude of self-righteousness. They spurn middle-class life and basically say there are no excuses for not doing what they promote as a worthy cause. This is a new burden placed on believers.

Here’s the thing though. Outsiders don’t necessarily know what’s going on within the family. What about…

  • the family who is strategically sharing the gospel with their middle class neighbors
  • the family that provides bread and milk for the less fortunate down the street
  • the family that gives up autonomous life and works to support and live with a disabled family member
  • the family that fosters children
  • the wife who’s desire is to serve others more, but needs to submit to her unbelieving, or less mature husband
  • the family that sacrifices family time for misc ministry purposes
  • the family that still lives well but donates 1/2 their income
  • the woman who cleans the church weekly
  • the man who is faithful to stack chairs, etc.

The point is, is that sometimes the Christian life does not call people to travel to a foreign country, adopt a child, or even evangelize on the street. Sometimes the Christian life calls people to labor where they are, for the people already in their circle of acquaintance. They are called to do the invisible jobs. The Bible calls us to live in such a way where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. So, if you are a disciple of Christ who has been called to something public (like adoption, I mean, it’s really hard to keep that secret) that’s AWESOME! But don’t become self-righteous and look down on others who don’t have a heart for [enter your passion here]. Assume the best of your brothers and sisters in Christ. God has (or will) more than likely burdened their hearts with something, but you may never hear about it. It may be something that is only between them and God and you will never know of the sacrifice they have given.

Let’s get rid of the old legalism and let’s get rid of the new legalism. Let’s get rid of this, “What are YOU doing?” mentality and remember that the Christian life is often about doing, in that by doing we’re loving others, but it’s also about being; simply resting in who Christ is and what He has done. I don’t HAVE to DO because of what He has DONE. And the only reason we DO (read love) is because I am FIRST loved. Don’t be impatient with those who are behind you on this amazing road of Christ. Meet them where THEY are but keep in mind, they might be ahead of you because of the secret sacrifices they’ve made that you’ll never know about.


Journal March 25



“Humility is not the product of direct cultivation, rather it is a by-product. The more I try to be humble the less shat I attain unto humility. But if I am truly occupied with that One who was ‘meek and lowly at heart,’ if I am constantly beholding His glory in the mirror of God’s word, then shall I be changed inot the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

-John commentary by James Montgomery Boice quotes Arthur W. Pink

Journal March 15


CHARLES STANLEY about goal setting:

1. State precisely what you intend to accomplish.

2. Keep your goals private.

3. Set goals you can’t reach on your own strength and ability.

4. Make a commitment to your goals.

5. Take one step at a time.

6. Set a goal to successfully manage your success.

7. Take the plunge. “I’m going to take the risk. I’m going to jump in and see what happens.”

Journal March 14


ISAIAH 40:31

“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and no faint.”

“What homemaker hasn’t found herself asking, after the fiftieth load of laundry in a week or when facing yet another sink full of dirty dishes, ‘Is there anything significant about what I’m doing here?’ Yet in God’s eyes, nothing is more significant than servanthood. The path to genuine greatness lies in serving.”

-Sacred Marriage quoting Gary and Betsy Ricucci


Babies Grow Too Fast

When you have your first baby, every one tells you how fast they grow up and encourages you to cherish every moment. You know they’re right, at least in theory. But between the lack of sleep and questioning every decision you make, you forget to cherish, at least as much as you should. The first birthday rolls around faster than you can blink your eyes and you’re wondering how your baby became a toddler.


When you have a second baby and a toddler, you know from experience that people are right: time does fly by too quickly and that first birthday will happen before you know it. But you’re constantly pulled in different directions and while you try to sit and stare, you always have the toddler in need of something… or destroying something, requiring your attention.


But when you have a 6 and 8 year old, you know without a doubt how fast time goes by. The older ones are more independent and you have more opportunity just to slow down and cherish this amazing baby. You do everything you can to slow down time. Naps are no longer strictly scheduled and milestones are met with the bittersweet knowledge that she’s growing too fast.


And as you sit cuddling your 8-month old during her 10:00 feeding, and you stare at her dimpled hands and tuft of hair, as you realize how much she’s grown now that she finally fits in that sleeper she’s worn for 5 months, your heart begins to ache. You remember that two hours earlier you sat in that same chair with your lanky 6-year-old listening to her read and you know that in six incredibly short years this baby you hold will be too big to carry, and too big to sit in your lap, and you’ll cuddle her in a different way as she reads to you. Your heart aches and burns with overwhelming love. You even wish that this precious little person could stay a baby forever. And yet, as you think of your 8 year old and 6 year old you know you wouldn’t trade one minute of the last 8 years. You’re glad that they are 8 and 6 and that you got the front row seat to their toddles, cute words and phrases, scribbles turned artwork, first days of kindergarten, and explorations into the world.

And so, as your heart is ready to explode with love for this tiniest, newest member of the family, as you acknowledge the fleeting time ahead of you, you slow down and cherish every moment. You ache knowing that she won’t be a baby forever, but remind yourself that there are some great memories to be made.