Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Be Careful: Your Obedience Can Become Obsession

I don't typically write "theological" or Christian walk posts on this blog because my purpose is to focus on very practical ideas that will help marriages and families. However, I feel compelled to write one that I'm confident will impact at least the spiritual training and modeling we do for our children.

I've noticed over the years that many well-meaning people turn their Christ-following (or at least that is what they would term it) into a kind of legalistic, this-is-how-you-do-it way of life and set of personal practices.

For example, there are people who are devoted students of the Bible who attend Bible studies and the pages of their Scriptures are filled with notes and underlining. However, they think that every teaching or preaching of the Word must then be verse by verse and dig deeply into the Greek or Hebrew or it's not good teachng.  They snub their noses at those who attend those easy studies and groups.

They can probably tell you the outlines to the books of Romans and Ephesians. The problem is their marriages are often shallow or falling apart and their kids are a mess. They spend little time applying the Scriptures to life. They just obsess about how many details they know and can spout off about them.

Others obsess about their personal spiritual habits - how much they fast, how often they attend church, their prayer time or how much they give. All those are wonderful and potentially lifechanging spiritual practices but we're told often in Scripture that the goal of any of our habits and obedience must be that Christ increase and we decrease, that God be glorified in us.

Even the more current phrases like being missional or spiritual formation can become someone's book theme that now tells us just the way those words should be lived out in a home, community or church. The message seems to be . . . you know, our church has finally figured out how to do this thing called being a Christian and the rest of you are probably doing it wrong.

Of course, we ought to learn from the wisdom and experiences of others. And many times people who have gone before us do have ideas, concepts and other insights that can help us or our family grow. But be careful that what was supposed to be simple obedience to Christ in us or others doesn't turn into simply another form of works that God clearly told us would never get us to God or ultimately please Him if it was only for our own benefit. There is a better way. Just follow Jesus.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.


  1. Amen, amen, and amen.

    If your life is a mess, especially your family, what you know or how often you fast means nothing. Many of us need to learn to apply what we know before we go to learn more!


  2. I'll amen Paul's amen. Grace is wonderful thing! It frees us from so many man-made rules.

  3. One of the things that Christians must guard against is sharing an opinion that has no biblical basis. If we are going to address the necessity of applying the Word, then aid the reader by providing a reference for their benefit. The same would be true about moderation or any other subject that is raised. While many wish to acknowledge what is wrong in the people we see, we're just as guilty of spouting and espousing our 'wisdom' which is a far cry from that which comes from above.

    There are a multitude of blogs on the Internet. What separates the Christian writer from the others should be a commitment to present the truth rightly divided for its readers. If on the other hand, an individual is merely speaking for himself or to be heard, then I would assume that his glory is the overriding purpose as opposed to God's.

    Your post mentioned several areas of concern, but you negated to provide a workable solution for the readers that may be guilty of the behavior mentioned. There was no suggestion of prayer or biblical passages they may seek to remedy excesses that may bring in the legalistic behavior that was mentioned. The entire message rings of the same finger waving by its author that you observed in the subjects discussed.

    When the Holy Spirit exhorts us for our shortcomings, He always provides the solution for what ails. Return to God. Desist. And so on. What is He saying through your words? Be blessed.

  4. Gabby,

    Thanks for reading my post and your thoughts. And while more detail as you suggest would be appropriate for an article or book I choose to write less for a blog. My goal is to get people to think and be challenged without offering the deeper dive. I do believe that the cautions are warranted where the shoe fits. Keep on.