Laws are needed in any society. These rules by which we live are valuable. They help us to live together in harmony.
More important than stringent laws, are PRINCIPLES. Principles are laws or regulations, but they are different. They are elastic and provide freedom to think independently. When the scribes and Pharisees brought the woman that was caught in the very act of adultery, they shouted, “The law says stone her, but what do you say?” (John 8:5). He neither condemned nor condoned the woman’s action. He found a rule above rules, a law above law. “Let him that be without sin, cast the first stone“. When all had departed he turned to the woman and asked, “Where are your accusers? Then he said a remarkable thing. “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more” (John 8:11). The marvel of mercy rose above the death by stoning.
Let me list a few principles that govern, define, and help us to understand law.
THE BEAUTY OF SIMPLE OBEDIENCE. Teach it to your children. Practice it in your own life. On the occasion of washing the disciples feet, Jesus said, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them, Knowing what’s right is not good enough. Doing what you know is right is good enough.
JUST FINISH WHAT YOU START. Plant this great truth in your mind and sow it daily in the lives of your kids. Having the idea is good. Gathering the materials is fine. Starting the project is wonderful, but there is nothing in the law that makes you finish what you start. If it is eating the food you take on your plate, cleaning the closet you began to clean, cutting the grass, trimming the hedge or reading a book. When you start – don’t stop until you finish.
BEAR EACH OTHER’S BURDENS, BUT NEVER BEAR EACH OTHER’S RESPONSIBILITIES. Paul wrote, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”(Galatians 6:2). Law does not tell you when where who or how. The principle allows us to see the need and help the needy. Bearing burdens is helpful. Bearing someone else’s responsibilities is almost immoral. Growing up is a personal project. Doing someone’s homework doesn’t help them. Helping them do their homework is good and right. Regardless of their age, let them stand and face the effort. Encourage them, stand by them, help them on, insist that this is a project for them to do and no one can take their place.
I WANT MY CHILD TO LEARN. This is the bottom line of desire and fulfillment. If it is failure, learn from it. If it is success, learn from it. If it is a mistake, make corrections and learn. Life is learning. As a parent I would not be interested in cuffing my child, hitting them, hollering at them, threatening them. I want my child to learn and anything that helps in accomplishing that fact is good and right and helpful. This way there are no failures, no successes, no rights, and no wrongs – just learning. What a great principle. What a marvelous truth.
A ONE TIME TELL. We grew up under the guidance of this simple principle. We were told once. When we understood what was said, WE became responsible. “I told you and told you and told you and told you . . .” someone in this situation is soft in the head. Either the one telling or the one being told. If your child understands this simple principle it will be a guiding light throughout all his life. The teacher says, “Johnny, sit here”. Johnny moves quickly to obey. The policeman gives orders to “Stop”. Johnny stops. The boss man leaves instructions. Enough said. Powerful principles in simple words.
Law provides, prohibits, protects and promises. When these laws are put in principles, they become elastic and thus they can expands or contract to fit every persons needs. This not only allows growth, it is the very principle by which we grow.
Solomon writes, “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be an ornament of grace about your head, and chains about your neck . . . The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. . . foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 1:7-9; 22:15).
The wonder of it all is found in simple principles. You have the mind and power to find them, name them and apply them.