Sunday, March 22, 2009

Legalism vs. Holiness

I personally have a hard time with determining the difference between legalism and a desire to be set apart. In this I mean living in a way that is pleasing to God and having a life that is filled with things that are beneficial. My personal feelings at this moment would lead me to say that it is very dependent on two things. One is intention or heart you have about it; the other is the leading of the Spirit.

I have had a couple of people basically say that our act of giving up television is acting in a legalistic way. I could see where a person could draw this conclusion, but I do not agree with it. There are many reasons that we made this choice, and it wasn’t even a spiritual choice at all in the beginning. It just grew that way.

It started more as a way of limiting the viewing time that our child had because she had so many shows that she wanted to watch in the morning, and since they were all pretty good shows that were teaching her great things (PBS kids was our channel), it was hard for me to say no. But, I began to feel like the television was still being an entertainer and a babysitter too often and I wasn’t getting the time with Curly that I wanted. There was just too much “noise” in our life and we needed simplification.

It’s funny how things change when you take something like that away. Handsome and I would have the television on in the evening often. We didn’t necessarily like the shows, but once you are sitting there it becomes easy to just stay there on the couch. There are so many things that we can fill our time with that are more beneficial. There is a great peace that has come over our house now that it is gone too. I have not a single desire to go back. I find it stressful when we visit other people and they have the TV going as background noise. It just takes away from that peaceful feeling that I want my home to have.

Back to my initial point, I think that this choice could be a legalistic thing, but that doesn’t mean that it always is. I think that goes for a lot of things that can be classified as legalistic. It’s all about the heart you have about it. And by golly, if the Lord is calling me to give something up so that I can grow closer to Him- who is anyone else to tell me that I am not living in the freedom that comes with following Christ? I am not saying the Lord called me to give up television, but there are other things that are finding their way out of our home these days too. I also don’t think that everyone needs to do what God is asking me to do. Perhaps others don’t have an issue with the same areas that I do. That’s why we have a PERSONAL savior and a personal relationship with Him. We are all different. Otherwise it would be fine to have one set of rules and it wouldn’t be an issue.

Do any of you have thoughts on this area? This is something that I am trying to figure out and I may be wrong on my current conclusions. If I come along with something that contradicts what I just said later you can’t call me names. That’s all part of learning and growing.


Vicky said...

I LOVE this post! You put it into words so well. As you know, this is something I've been trying to sort out as well, and what you said here helps me a lot.

Thanks for sharing this!

Kelli said...

Phenominal post! You hit it right on the nail. It is ALWAYS about the HEART. I think when you have someone who attacks you (for a lack of better way of saying it) about legalism, you have to wonder is it because they themselves struggle with legalism? Or is what you are challenged to change in your life also challenging them?

Praise God that we are continually challenged to live a life filled with Christ. And if that means watching less tv to spend more time with or family or with our Lord and Savior so be it!


Laurel said...

Great thoughts!

So, I just popped up my handy google dictionary, and look what Legalism means: "dependence on moral law rather than on personal religious faith".

You were right on with your thoughts ... the "rules" per se, that guide your life, are based on your own personal religious faith, not someone else's list of do's and don'ts.

Now, there are areas that we should be legalistic, as in, we should uphold the standards of "moral law" which apply to everyone:

Thou shall not kill.
Thou shall not make idols.
Thou shall not ...

Yes, these are for EVERYONE. If you tell someone not to murder their neighbor, you may be legalistic, but you should be proud to be legalistic. :)

I think the negative side of legalism rears its ugly head when we begin to think that everything God tells us to do, that everyone else must also do it:

Everyone needs to have a dozen or more children.

Everyone must homeschool their children.

No one should watch television.

No one should allow their children to date in high school.

While those are things that the Lord has personally called our family to, we have no such list of rules for others to live by.

If I was meeting with someone one on one, I would probably challenge them with some very logical and scriptural reasons to not spend all day watching t.v ... and some practical and scriptural reasons that they might not want their 13 year old in a serious dating relationship. I could also tell them about the wonderful benefits of homeschooling; and I could tell them that we are so thankful the Lord called us to have 13 children. But ... I would NEVER even think to tell anyone that this is what the Lord wants for their individual family.

Hope that makes sense.

Keep thinking ... keep pondering ... keep sharing ...

Laurel :)

Mom (Lisa) said...

People will always have "judgement" issues and you are well off to remember that if you are being judged it is simply due to the fact that the person in judgement has had something in your actions spark an area of potential growth for them. You are in no way responsible for what meaning the "judge" puts on this. We all get to learn from our own lives what we will.
You have never been into T.V. all that much anyway my dear. so this is not such a big stretch for you as it may be for someone else. likewise, there may be something you would have a negative judgemental reaction to, that seems perfectly logical to another. God gives us our own unique lives to live, and teaches us (gently and lovingly) through the way we live them...working around the choices we make (the good, the bad, and the downright ugly choices). Only you can judge whether or not your choices make your life better.
Keep learning and growing!

Jenilee said...

I love your last sentence. :) Isn't that the truth? Why are we judged when we are trying to be more Christ-like in our everyday lives? We will still make mistakes, but we have to try. And, we have to do our best to ask WWJD in everything we do. Be encouraged! You are not alone and you go girl!

Jenilee said...

thought you might want to check this out.

Stefanie said...

I'm just now catching up on your blog, I was in Arizona for a week! I gave up TV for a couple months like 2 years ago and it was amazing! I slowly let it creep back in and have known for months that I need to give it up again and it is sooo hard! Great job in keeping this up!