What words would those closest to you use to describe how you apply your faith to most relationships? Do you act with a perspective of religion or one of grace? Do you emphasize rules or relationship? Do you condemn or accept a fellow believer exercising a liberty you resist? Are you critical of someone committing a transgression against you, or do you overlook the offense? Do you tell others about the sin in order to rally them in support of your position, or do you take the matter to God? If you answered, “Yes,” to the first option in one or more of these questions, you might be acting in legalism, rather than love.
Paul directed believers to humbly turn toward the goal of love and press on toward the high calling of God in Christ who loved them first.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained” (Philippians 3:12-16).
Rome’s pagan culture communicated that particular religions completed citizens in such a way that made them flawless. Although Christ lives in us as believers, we are not flawless (Philippians 3:12). However, we are complete in Christ, who graciously matures us as works in progress pursuing the goal of love (Philippians 3:14-15). This progress on Restoration Road can be two steps forward and one step back.
Forget the embarrassment of your past legalistic efforts and humbly turn toward the goal of love by praying that God would give you His perspective of grace. Seek ways to demonstrate to others that your relationship with them is more important to you than rules. Rather than correcting or condemning a friend who exercises a liberty you resist, accept him in Christ. Instead of criticizing someone for sinning against you, overlook the offense. Rather than repeating that matter to someone else, keep it confidential and surrender it to God.