Legalism That Steals Your Joy
So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. — John 5:10-13
This moment precisely illustrates the joy and freedom of righteousness in contrast with the burden of religious legalism. Jesus has just performed an incredible miracle. He healed a man who had been lame for about four decades. As far we know, this man has never walked a day in his life. But in conjunction with the healing, Jesus told the man to "take up his bed and walk." Now, this part of the Savior's instructions to the lame violated one of the 39 prohibitions of work on the Sabbath day as written by religious authorities. It was not an act of disobedience but a violation of their additional religious rules.
So in the interaction with the lame man, these religious legalists want to get to the bottom of this. They see right past the joy of the miracle and the fact there is a lame man standing in front of them who has never walked before. All they care about is the mat rolled up under his arm. Why? Because it's too heavy to carry around on a Sabbath day.
Don't you hate it when people do stuff like this? You hit a home run, and then your dad points out all the little things you could have done better. You crush the sales quota for the month, and your boss focuses on a tiny issue with a client that went wrong. You spend a fortune for a family vacation, and everyone complains about a minor travel issue. You work your butt off for a test, but you miss the grade you want by a fraction of a point. We have all experienced these things. And sometimes, when these events happen, we get drawn into legalism. Like this lame man, we set aside the wonder of the miracle and begin to question ourselves. Then we duck, deflect, blame, and explain, assuming we have done something wrong and the joy and freedom are stolen. And even worse, as a victim of religious legalism, we learn and do the same to others.
Today celebrate something God has done for you. Be joyous. Experience freedom. Focus less on your minor imperfections and those things that still need to change. God will address them all in time. For now, refuse to practice the legalism that was modeled to you and stop passing this on to others.
ASK THIS: What has God done in you that you need to celebrate?
DO THIS: Celebrate it. Reject legalism.
PRAY THIS: Jesus, thank you for this wonderful thing you have done in my life.
PLAY THIS: Eye of the Storm.
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