When You’re Tempted to Break the Rules

A friend told me this lunchtime that he couldn’t imagine me breaking any rules!  He obviously didn’t know me when I was a teenager.  I’m sure that had I got in with the wrong group of friends, I would have stolen from shops and whatever else, but I didn’t.  Anyway it got me thinking about rules, and one area where I’ve been tempted to break them.

Compassion have a very strict rule:  Children and sponsors aren’t allowed to contact each other except through Compassion.  Well, last year, I had a friend-request on Facebook – from the mother of one of my girls.  I was so excited!  I talked on the phone to Compassion, who advised me against accepting.  They said they couldn’t stop me, as we were both adults, but we weren’t allowed to talk about my sponsored child.  I thought about this a lot.  The mother lived away from the family and if anything like a typhoon had hit and she’d asked about her daughter, I couldn’t have said a thing.  I decided that would be much too difficult for both of us, wrote her a message to explain and have never heard anything back.  The friend-request is still there, waiting for me to confirm or delete it.

Quite recently I had another request, this time from one of my sponsored children.  I looked at his friend-list:  His older brother was on there; a cousin I remembered him writing about …  It had to be him.  That request reminded me of my girl’s mother, and I had a thought.  My girl is a teenager now.  I looked again at her mother’s friend-list, and there she was.

How I’d love to make contact with all 3 of them, but what would that mean?  I think first the project-staff would meet with the children and remind them of the rules.  Then, if they and their families decide not to agree to those rules, they can leave the project.  But my boy has said in a letter that he wants to finish his studies so he can help his parents!  How would he do that without Compassion?  What a poor show it would be if my desire for more contact meant their having to leave their centres and squander the opportunities they’ve got.  Shouldn’t I instead set them an example and wait?  In 10 years, they’ll be adults and probably at the end of their sponsorship.  I’m free to contact them once they’ve left Compassion, and what’s a few years really?

I think those are the main 2 things that put me off breaking rules:  The consequences, and wanting to persevere; but I wonder if God likes either of those.  Does He want us to be Christians just so we’ll escape going to hell?  Does He want us to strive and strive to finish well and do what’s right, because they’re the rules and we know we should?  Or would He rather something else:  Would He rather we have such a deep love for Him, doing what’s wrong just doesn’t seem to fit.

Do you know something?  When I’m most tempted to break rules is when my love for God is in most danger of going cold.  I’ve been hearing about Peter this week and how Jesus turned someone who was out of courage and out of passion into a bold, enthusiastic Christian.  I’m sure He can do the same for me and for you, so whenever we feel we’re going cold, let’s ask for His help.

Who’s Worth Listening To?

“If you have died with Christ to the world’s way of doing things, why do you let others tell you how to live?  It’s as though you were still under the world’s influence. People will tell you, ‘Don’t handle this!  Don’t taste or touch that!’ …  These things look like wisdom with their self-imposed worship, false humility, and harsh treatment of the body.  But they have no value for holding back the constant desires of your corrupt nature” – Colossians 2:20-21, 23 (God’s Word Translation)

 

People do tell us how to live, and we get all sorts of advice – most of it intended to make us the best we can be.  “Keep away from that church!  You’ve been brainwashed” might be said by someone who sees you’re changing and wants the old you back because to them, the old you was better, but if you know those changes are doing you good, you’ll probably choose to stay where you are.  A friend who struggled to control his drinking told some of us that when he saw Christians drinking alcohol, he felt they wouldn’t understand his problem, and that made me think about what was more important; having a vodka in my hand or being approachable?  People might come to different conclusions about that, and I can see both sides – wanting the freedom to enjoy things in moderation, and yet not wanting to trip somebody else up.  You could go round in circles, tying yourself in knots about things, but that won’t do you a lot of good, so how do you decide?

 

Probably the best advice I can give is from the chapter I’ll be reading tomorrow:  “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” – Colossians 3:15.  In the end, these things have to be between you and God.  If you want to follow Him, God will show you His plan for your life by the peace He puts in your heart, and He’ll get you through it even when others don’t understand.

 

It has been suggested that perhaps I’m unteachable, or I don’t take on people’s opinions when they’re honest with me.  I hope I don’t come across as arrogant!  It’s not that I don’t value people’s advice; I do, and sometimes I take it, but not always.  When I stand before Jesus, I won’t have anyone else to answer to for the way I’ve lived my life.  It’ll be Him, and Him alone.

 

Have you been given any advice lately?  Maybe you’ve handed some out.  I’m here for a chat if you want one.