In my last post, I started looking at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel. We saw how a legalistic mindset can drive new believers to give up on their Christian walk.
At some point, we begin to realize that trying to live for the Lord on our own terms doesn’t work. The things of the world lose their appeal. We begin to long for the blessing of God.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.”
Luke 15:17-20 NIV
I want you to notice something important here. This young man misses the blessings of the father’s house. But, at the same time he still has the slave mentality.
We have to realize that thinking like a slave is a symptom of a childish mindset. Paul makes that clear in his writings.
What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.
Galatians 4:1 NIV
That’s a part of our spiritual growth. We all have to go through the “slave” stage. That’s when we learn the basics of growing in Christ.
Somebody disciples us in the foundational principles. They tell us we need to read the Scriptures and pray daily. We must meet together with other believers for teaching and fellowship. We need to realign our finances through the giving of tithes and offerings.
To a new believer, this seems like a list of rules. As we grow in Christ, however, we find that these disciplines actually free us to serve God at the highest level. We put the childish slave mentality behind us and begin to operate like a mature son or daughter.
Here’s an example. When I was young teen, living with my parents, one of my chores was to put out the trash each week. I did it because I was told to do it and there would be consequences if I didn’t.
I’m 65 years old now. I still put out the trash each week. Why? Because that’s what a mature person does. I want my house clean, even though there will be no punishment if I fail to do it.
That’s how we should progress in our walk with the Lord. Those things that seemed like rules at the start, should become a vital part of our mature Christian experience.
This seems to be the hardest part of our walk with God. For some reason we want to hang on to the rules of childhood.
I’m talking about the “if…then” mentality. “If I tithe, then God will bless my finances.” “If I encourage someone, then I will be encouraged.”
Think about it. That’s how we treat children. “If you clean your room, then I’ll take you out for ice cream.”
Maturity thinks in a whole new way. We understand that under the New Covenant, I receive the blessing of God simply because I’m His child and I trust Him. On the other hand, I do those things that I know to do simply because I love the Father and I want to please Him.
This is a truth that Paul had to forcefully proclaim to the Galatian church. They were very quickly falling into legalism.
I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
Galatians 3:2-3 NIV
We must always remember that we’re walking according to the spirit. Serving Christ is not a matter of following a bunch of rules (observing the law). It’s about listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and walking in harmony with that calling.
Question: How do you break the “rules mentality” in following Christ?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi