"Mom," my five year old sighed a few days ago, "you said you were going to play four rounds of Stratego with me, and you've only done one!" I had merely gotten up to stir the pasta on the stove. I knew I was coming right back. But he wasn't sure.
Eight year old Claire soothed him. "Ethan, did she say she would play four games with you?" He nodded. "Then, don't worry; if she said it, she'll do it."
I was struck in this conversation by how much my children trust me implicitly. I guess it was a good barometer of how much I had kept my word where they are concerned. But it was also sobering as I realized just how much power the words of a parent can have in the lives of their children. And I don't think this small exchange between the two of them was coincidental. Not when I am immersed in my ponderings of legalism and how not to be legalistic, and, more importantly, how not to inadvertently pass that on to the children.
Last week, I wrote about two of my guiding principles when making choices regarding issues of the conscience. Then I mused on Ecclesiastes 10:2 and desiring God's ancient wisdom. If Ecclesiastes 10:2 tells us there is a fork in the road, and the wise man takes the one on the right, there are many more scriptures that tell us that even that road has ditches on either side--ditches that result in evil-doing.
Principle #3: "Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil." (Proverbs 4:27) Translation: Be radically Biblical. At first glance this doesn't sound very radical at all. But I am a person of extremes, and I live among a people of extremes. And, somehow, I oftn think I serve a God of Extremes. But God would beg to differ, I think.
Deut. 5:32 "You shall be careful, therefore, to do as the Lord your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left."Deut. 17:11 "According to the instructions that they give you, and according to the decision that they pronounce to you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside from the verdict that they declare to you, either to the right hand or to the left."Deut. 28:13-14: "And the Lord God will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them."Joshua1:7 "Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go."Joshua 23:6 "Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left"2 Kings 22:2 "And he (Josiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left."
If I am going to make choices and live a life that glorifies God, I must put on the mind of the Spirit and learn to think like God thinks. And I must admit from the verses above--and there are more like them--that God is neither radically right nor radically left. Neither is He a moderate. (A moderate is simply someone who likes compromise and is typically fully convinced of nothing. The word "spineless" comes to mind.) No, God is something that is not right, not left, and not moderate. God is radically Biblical. And that is a category unto itself.
But I can confuse submitting to the Ancient of Days with "erring on the side of caution." In my frailty as a forgiven-but-fallen human, I like to play it safe with my decisions. However, erring is erring. To err is to miss the mark. To miss the mark is ... sin. So, to choose to be more pious than God is to ... sin. Playing fast and loose with Scripture is not Biblical; being more pious than God is not Biblical. Only the Bible is Biblical. And where the Bible is silent, I have a duty to wrestle with issues and let Biblical principles inform our choices.
From this point forward, ...
...I am guarding myself against adding to or taking away from the Word.
...I am going to be fully convinced in my own mind.
...I am refraining from veering both right and left.
Who's with me?