I’ve been blogging this week on how common it is for we Christians to hold ourselves up as the standard for others to follow and the importance of looking to Christ (not others) as our standard. (If you are just checking in you can read Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays posts below.)
It sounds easy:
- “Oh, good! Now I don’t have to worry about keeping my house as clean as Jackie’s! I hate the pressure I’ve been feeling from her.”
- “This is awesome; when my co-worker doesn’t get stuff done I just need to show grace and not sweat it.”
- “What a relief to know that I don’t have to impose my standards on my kids. If they don’t have the capacity to help much with chores I just need to understand they have different ‘boundaries’ than I do.”
- “So glad to know that I don’t have to give in to the pressure to be as legalistic as my friends about getting things done. They just need to relax!”
- “This is so helpful. Now I can stop fretting about my friend’s constant complaining about how hard her life is. Her boundaries are just different than mine.”
Yes, maybe Jackie’s cleaning standards are off the charts and God wants to set you free from her being the standard. Perhaps you’ve been resentful of co-workers who don’t work as hard as you do and they need to be set free from your judgements. Maybe your kids can’t keep their rooms clean enough for your preferences. Or you might have legalistic friends who think they gain God’s pleasure through their actions and they do need to relax! And your friend’s regular complaining could be rooted in pressure she’s feeling from herself or others to be someone she’s not.
But sometimes I’ve confused grace with laziness. Know what I mean? God’s grace never lowers the standard. In fact, it raises it. Jesus didn’t just condemn adultery. He taught that the lustful seeds that can lead to adultery are equally as sinful. And it’s not enough to not murder someone, the anger that fuels murderous thoughts and actions is just as wrong. (See Matthew 5:22 and following.) Grace isn’t given to encourage irresponsibility. Rather, it “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness…and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). Rather than promote laziness and the avoidance of hard things, grace teaches us to embrace responsibility and then empowers us to do well!
A homemaker whose house is consistently unmanaged may not have the ability to keep her home as clean as Jackie’s. But Jackie isn’t the standard: God’s word is. When Paul instructs we ladies to be “busy at home” (Titus 2:5) he didn’t make a list of what that busyness should look like. “Busy” to Jackie might combine with the personal preference of a tidy linen closet with neatly stacked, identically folded towels. Her friend keeps busy just keeping the laundry done so someone can grab a clean towel from the basket when needed. The question is are both friends fulfilling their God-given mandate to be hard workers at home? Whether single or married, stay-at-home or working mom, no kids or many, we ladies are called to manage our homes well. (I know some guys visit this blog; thank you! Hopefully, if you’re married you’re helping your wife with this formidable task.)
When those we love are excusing laziness with boundary-keeping we need to speak up. Refusing to allow others to be the standard doesn’t mean we aren’t accountable to the clear teachings of scripture. But our first words should be spoken to God.
Which reminds me of a story I need to tell you tomorrow….