Give Yourself to Others …

Principles are not convenient

Posted on: 2007/01/10

There are two reasons principles are not convenient.

First, it’s more difficult to follow principles than it is to follow rules. With a rule, the thought process typically focuses on the question of whether the rule applies. If the rule applies, you follow the rule. If the rule does not apply, you can ignore it. Pretty black and white.

Then, of course the opposite is true for principles. Principles must be applied, not followed. You must learn to evaluate a situation and assess how the principle would apply to that situation. The next situation may be different or similar. But even if similar, there may be sufficient differences to warrant a different application of the same principle.

As any observer of government would acknowledge, if you’re out to make rules to apply to everything, the task is never ending. And as a result, legislatures continue to make new rules, throw out some old ones, change some others. But they always focus on rules.

At the federal level, then the Supreme Court gets to decide whether the rules Congress makes are appropriate applications of the principles of the Constitution.

Well, according to Jesus and later affirmed my numerous New Testament writers, the one principle of the new covenant between God and mankind is: Love your neighbor as yourself. In the Gospel of John, John quotes Jesus as saying, “Love one another as I have loved you and give my life for you.” Certainly, the intent of the language seems similar.

But there is not court to decide whether we apply this principle properly — only God is the Judge. He judges me and he judges you, as we try to apply this principle. And it’s important to note that he says I should not judge you and you should not judge me.

And then, he goes even farther and tells us that it’s our hearts he judges, our intent, what we want to do — not what we actually succeed in doing.

Because of that, I’m going to keep trying to apply this principle, regardless of how difficult or how inconvenient.


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