Legalistic Or "law-abiding"?

I recently posted a topic called “Serve God and Not Religion!” ( and, unsurprisingly, it generated quite a lot of debate. One of the aspects that was discussed was “legalism”. Some agreed that it's something to be avoided, like following the letter and not the spirit of the law. Others stated that we cannot live in “lawlessness”, or anarchy. Both parties seem to have reasonable, Biblical arguments. Who is right? Is anybody right?!

In my opinion, the problem lies with the words we're using. I suspect that those who defend “legalism” are actually defending the concept of being “law-abiding”, which for me is a very different thing.

It saddens me when we Christians debate and argue and try to prove points, when deep down, we probably agree on quite a lot of things. Do we agree that we should try hard not to be like the Pharisees of Jesus' day? Yes, we probably do. Do we agree that we need to consider all things with love, not lay down the law with others in a “one size fits all” kind of way? Yes, perhaps we do.

My post about “Religion” was not created to cause controversy or to offend, and least of all to criticise others. It was (and is) the CRY of my heart, what my heart longs for. Perhaps your heart longs for something else, very good. I'd like to hear about it!

I'd also like to clarify what I said in that post regarding tithing and living from church offerings. That is also a personal preference. I do not seek to judge or criticise those who do this, goodness me no. In fact, my own father was a church minister and we lived in a house that belonged to the church and he was paid a salary which he worked hard for. If I have a criticism it is of those, like the pastor of that Mega Church in Korea, who seek after gold and teach prosperity, whilst the whole time they are the main ones that prosper....

On a personal note, I would also like to say that I would feel embarassed to receive money from other Christians who I regard to be my brothers and sisters, my equals. For example, my husband and I recently travelled to Bolivia on a mission trip, sharing the Good News through music and street preaching, and people would sometimes come up to us and give us money, and many assumed that they would have to pay for the little flyers we gave out with a Christian message. Unfortunately, many street preachers and “bus evangelists” do ask for a collection each time they go out, meaning that they are generally regarded as beggars, something that makes me very sad.

I know that there are Biblical arguments that support doing a full time ministry whilst supported by Christian offerings. However, there is also a solid, Biblical precedent for those who choose not to. For example, the Apostle Paul himself, who wrote:

Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge,and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:13-18)

Many of those who justify their right to live from the Gospel stop quoting after verse 14. But we can see that for Paul it was a great joy for him to forego this right and preach “free of charge”.

Whilst we were preaching in Bolivia we met a number of people who were earnestly seeking after God, but had become disillusioned and disappointed by churches and church leaders where they could only see a love of money. Imagine, if we had preached to them and then asked for an offering! Or, if we had invited them to our Bible study and then passed around a hat for donations! And yet, this is sadly what happens ALL THE TIME. Many churches ask for “love offerings” from those who are still seeking and many evangelists ask for donations after they have preached to people.

It was a source of great joy and thankfulness to us that we were able to travel to Bolivia and continue working to earn money in order to finance our trip and make the whole thing possible. Shortly before we set out there for the first time I applied for an online teaching position and got it, meaning that we have the freedom to travel wherever there is a good internet connection and continue to spread the Good News. God enabled it. God has provided, and we are overwhelmingly grateful. To HIM be the glory! We don't earn much but it's enough to live on, and we feel called to live this way for this season. We know that it won't be forever, but wherever we are and whatever the season, our heart's desire is to continue preaching to others, even if it's just on weekends.

It's SUCH a beautiful thing and I want to encourage you all with this: ever since we dropped everything and made a conscious effort to put God and His Kingdom first, in a practical as well as a spiritual way, He has blessed us SO abundantly and have never been happier and have lacked for nothing.
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Very good, Beloved. Surely the workman is worthy of his hire: but the blessing is so much greater when it is the Lord
who pays us. I especially enjoyed the truth: "He has blessed us SO abundantly and have never been happier and have
lacked for nothing."