If legalism had a face I would kick it in the teeth

This is the meaning of true love – to give until it hurts – Mother Teresa

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely abhor legalism.

Legalism is defined as “strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, especially to the letter rather than the spirit”

I sometimes work with people who are legalistic, and their self-proclaimed legalism keeps them from giving freely out of their abundance. It can be rather disheartening to see these people give sparingly and with an ungrateful heart, my thoughts usually are “then WHY even help?” In a way, the people I know remind me of the Bible story of Ananias and Sapphira who decide to sell a piece of property and give the profits to the church, but the clincher is that they bring the money forward and say this is the entirety of what it was sold for and yet they held back a portion of what they made for themselves! So their intention was to hold back some of it in a dishonest fashion, and when they lied to the apostles God revealed they had lied and stuck both of them dead.

Now I’m not saying God will strike you dead for lying, but there is something to giving out of one’s abundance in a stingy way, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7) and with what we can share with others God delights in our giving, but I’m quite certain he would rather have us give because we want to and not because we have to, let alone giving without love in our hearts.

But I also combating legalism through the lens of the Prophet Micah as it says in Micah 6:8:
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
– To act justly
– to love mercy
– to walk humbly with your God
I may not be the audience Micah was speaking to, but I think there’s something to acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God. When brought to the light, being legalistic and having legalism goes against acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God, so maybe with this passage found in the Old Testament it can serve as a litmus test to figure out if we’re doing right by God as well as others; if our hearts and minds are in check for what we’re doing and the attitude to which we’re doing things.

We should give out of love; love for God and a love for others, and sometimes it’s easy to see that we’re doing this and other times it is difficult. Regardless we need to give for the right reasons and not be caught up in our own legalism as well as others.



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