Failing at grace. . .

    legalism |ˈlēgəˌlizəm|

  • excessive adherence to law or formula.
  • dependence on moral law rather than on personal religious faith.

I hate rules.

Unfortunately, I’ve lived my entire life under a strict system of rules and regulations designed to govern every little part of my life. So, I’m used to rules. And there’s a part of me that refuses to live without them. Here’s a perfect example: my rules about dating. It should come as no surprise then that I’ve had my rules challenged time and time again.

And I’ve found myself forced to either break my own rules or eliminate them entirely.


Because I’ve often found that by creating rules for myself, I’m developing a system to counteract the very thing that I claim to believe in: grace. Grace is something I never give myself. I’m my own harshest critic, and I set for myself an unattainable standard.

I may never discover why I do this to myself, especially knowing what I know about God and how he relates to me. But I can fairly easily trace its roots.

I spent seventeen years of my life in a sect of Christianity that valued rules and regulations above the grace that God makes so readily available to us. Sure, they spoke and taught of grace, but every action revealed a legalistic and pharasaical heart.

I may claim to have broken free from those chains, but the evidence of my life says otherwise. I may be able to extend grace to others, but how long will that last if I’m so unwilling to offer it to myself?

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