Rules, Rules, Rules. Why in the world do I keep making so many stupid rules for myself. I’m turning into a regular Pharisee. And I don’t exactly like that association.
I’ve been blogging on a regular schedule for the past couple months. On Monday, I post a personal reflection, on Wednesday, I post a book review, and on Friday, I post a book list. It sort of turned into a pattern that I kept up. But eventually, it became a rule. And last week, when I was on a mini vacation to California, I was feeling horribly guilty about missing my final Friday post. I was really stressing about it. I eventually realized that I’d created a rule where none needed to exist. My priorities were out of line. I was being a Pharisee.
Jesus loved to make fun of the Pharisees. They were his favorite target for rebuke: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 23). “You brood of vipers!” (Matthew 3:7). “Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Mathew 16:16).
The Pharisees were a very strict group of Orthodox Jews who loved to add extra rules to the Bible. For example, they had extra-Biblical rules about hand washing, a precise method about how it was to be done for eating. The disciples and Jesus weren’t following their rules, so the Pharisees got upset.
But these weren’t Biblical hand washing rules. They were just some rules a Pharisee made up once upon a time, and they took the place of the Bible.
When the Pharisees confronted Jesus about it, he showed them their folly: “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as almost those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you” (Luke 11:39-41).
Like me, the Pharisees loved their rules more than they cared about what was most important: the heart. Instead of focusing on hand washing ritual, their time would have been better spent cleansing their heart before God. And for me, I was on vacation in California for heaven’s sake. It was far more important for me to spend time with my husband, enjoying our time down there, than it was to try to cram in some writing time, all for the sake of a silly, made up rule.
I wish I could say this was the only example of a rule I create that interferes with my ability to do God’s will. I like to apply plenty of restrictions to my diet, exercise, and my work schedule. Some rules are, of course, worth protecting and enforcing. But others need to be re-evaluated and should budge often.
Jesus thought it was a big deal, worth a little yelling and name calling. So I should too.