Like Jesus: Legalism is Easier

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

A lot of people hate legalism for the wrong reasons. They get mad when someone suggests we should say “no” to some things when the Bible has not really made those thing off-limits. They don’t like hearing “no.” Paul hated legalism, too, but mostly for a bigger, harder reason.

steps_350I grew up around legalism, and it was a good fit for me. I was a pleaser and a child. It wasn’t too hard to keep the list of do’s and don’ts. So mostly I felt pretty good about my relationship with God. If the unofficial ranking of “good Christian kids” was actually published, I would have been near the top. The problem with legalism is that it’s too easy.

In today’s verse (and the 6 after it), Paul smashes legalistic satisfaction by showing what God really wants from us. He doesn’t want us to grow holy from the outside in — by doing/avoiding all the listed items and waiting for our hearts to catch up. He wants to transform us from the inside by dismantling the machine and rebuilding it without the selfish button. He wants us to think like Jesus.

That’s way too hard. Let’s just not smoke or swear and then feel really good about ourselves.

Think: What’s harder, to follow a list of rules or to learn to think as selflessly as Jesus did? Is it even possible to have the same kind of humility He had?

Pray: Ask God to change your heart to begin to think and feel like Jesus did.

Do: A good way to begin thinking like Jesus would be to memorize Philippians 2:5-11.