Biblical principles are not the same as practical methods…but this is a trap I can easily fall into!
You know, we all have something in common – we like to be appreciated and commended. Even if you are not a conflict-phobic person like me, condemnation or criticism (or even just the perception of these) can still be really hurtful.
Sometimes this ‘condemnation’ doesn’t come from anyone other than ourselves – the lure of comparison. This can happen even between sweet Christian friends. It seems we so quickly become consumed by our lacking when we compare our worst to someone else’s best – and isn’t that the way we always compare ourselves, our worst – their best? The truth is (and we know this deep down) all of us are unique creatures with varying gifts and interests. Our varied natures are why we have different ways or “methods” for pretty much anything and everything!
Our value is not found in these distinctions, like organic gardening, essential oils, natural foods, or homemade bread baking. Yet, our practices (especially culturally en vogue ones) can make us feel superior. The reality is that these are methods, not biblical principles. While the Bible certainly is explicit and thorough in laying out God-mirroring principles for daily living for fulfilling our purposes, the Bible doesn’t go into the micro details or “how-to’s.” It is explicit (and wholly sufficient)concerning all areas of life including parenting, family planning, finances, relationships…
How about this example: a biblical principle is that parents are responsible before God for their children, so a mother should feed her baby. We’d all agree to that, right?! But breastfeeding or bottle feeding, scheduled or on-demand? Now things get sticky…but these are just methods to obey a principle.
How about you? Do you keep a grocery list on your phone, do you keep an ongoing list on the whiteboard in the kitchen and take a picture of it before heading to the store, do you have an app for grocery shopping, or maybe just pen and paper? Maybe you use a delivery service? The same questions can be asked about our chore lists, house cleaning routines, or cooking from scratch.
If we’re not careful, we can be vulnerable to feeling criticized when we hear, “Can you believe she still has to get up in the middle of the night with her 10 month old? Why aren’t you homeschooling? Why are you homeschooling?” I need to remind myself that if my words begin to sound like this, I’m in danger of damaging, causing stumbling, or encouraging defensiveness to those I care about.
Our culture’s practices and opinions change, but we must be so careful to distinguish between principles and methods! Here’s another principle that is worth remembering…
Mercy Triumphs over judgment. every time (James 2:13).
with love. Damaris