I’m a rule keeper. A rule giver. That’s a confession more than a boast.
I reflect on the many rules I laid down for my sons. Pick up your shoes. Get out of bed for school. Say your prayers. Get good grades. Make 80 percent of your free throws. Flush the toilet. Keep it quiet while I’m napping. Mow the lawn. Keep it quiet while you’re mowing the lawn.
The rules themselves weren’t always bad or wrong. But what did my sons grow to believe about my expectations? Keep my rules, and I approve and accept you. Don’t keep them, and I don’t approve and accept you.
Ah, parenting is a difficult thing when it comes to laying down the rules.
Kids need them. Families need them. But rules must not be the master. They must be the servant. Rules must be administered in a spirit of forgiving grace.
So I appreciate Jesus’ parable of the lost son (Luke 15:11-32) whose loving father broke the rules. He broke the rules of legalism (rules are master, not servant) that often force themselves into relationships. He refused to scold, “I told you so!”
God my Father forgives me and promises I can be a gracious father too.
What is more powerful than laws? Love. What is more powerful than rules? Relationships where forgiving grace is the best “rule” of all. Then all other rules have their proper place as servants, not masters.