Friday, September 09, 2005


As God has continued to work in my life certain things have become more and more clear over time. One thing that has become clear to me is the difference between a desire to receive versus a desire to control.

My desire to control is self-protective and completely contrary to the life of Jesus. Jesus clearly accomplished what He did by receiving from the Father and not by seeking to manage or control the lives of other people. In simple terms, Jesus was a servant not a master.

One would think that ministers, like me, would get this very clearly in their minds and make servanthood their calling. Unfortunately, the lust to control is too strong in leaders. We think we know too much and we feel we must control others for their own good--translation---our own good.

This desire to control is a subtle and dangerous form of legalism. I once felt legalism was easily spotted by watching out for people with conservative styles in music, dress and entertainment. I was wrong. The most dangerous form of legalism is found in those who appear to be open, generous and contemporary. Their openness, generosity and up-to-date life is really just a cover for their desire to build their own kingdom.

As is always the case, the reason I can see this so clearly is because I have at times been a legalist with contemporary styles. It takes one to really know one.
(Remember Jesus' words about taking the log out of your own eye?)

Here are a few signs of a contemporary legalist.
1. They have no sincere questions. They only have answers--answers for everything and everyone.
2. They think they know what God's will is for you. God agrees with them--always.
3. They will flatter you as long as you are changing according to plan. If you stop changing you become excess baggage and the object of their public prayers and concern while at the same time the object of their private scorn.
4. They love institutions that they control and the people who will serve the institution--translation--love their agenda.
5. They protect the church--translation--they protect their area of control.

What should one do with a legalist? Absolutely nothing. They are not listening and any attempt you make to change them is seen as a threat and an obvious sign you are out of God's will. Just remember that no legalist has ever succeeded over the long haul. Those who crucified Jesus were legalilsts and no one remembers their name.
Don't bother sharing precious spiritual truth with a legalist. (Remember Jesus' words about pearls and swine?)

He is the good news. Legalists are useful to God's purposes. Eventually they serve to help free people from the lust of control. As we see how ugly such control really is, we can be freed by God from this recurring lust.

Legalists are always internally tired. Controlling others is very tiring because the job is never done. Many legalists become great tools in God's hands after their conversion from legalism. (Remember Peter with the sword on the night of Jesus' arrest? He was a legalist that night, but he was converted)

I think I will start a group called LA--Legalist Anonymous--care to join? The only requirement is to be able to say "I failed to control anyone--especially me--and now I want to receive, rejoice and release instead of controlling."

1 comment:

bigshoulders said...

thanks, Bud. just came across your blog on a "Next Blog" push. no accident i read your post here. thanks for your insights and Biblical truths. sincerely, b.s.