“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.”
Romans 7:21 NLT
Paul wrote that he had discovered a “principle of life”. And he goes onto say what it is. But it is a principle with negative connotations, that are at odds with what we would normally regard as a “principle” for life. The Bible is full of principles, advice for how life should be lived. Principles for lifting us and encouraging us when needed. Principles for keeping us on the straight and narrow path of the pilgrim’s journey through life towards our Promised Land. So we have Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect”. Or there is 1 Peter 2:11-12, “Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbours. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honourable behaviour, and they will give honour to God when he judges the world”. Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 6:19-21, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be”. There are many other “principles” embedded in God’s wonderful book, the Bible.
What principles of life drive us pilgrims? It is interesting that, although many a life coach or author has written books with titles such as “30 Life Principles” or “Principles: Life and Work”, for a Christian (in my opinion) there are only two and they set the scene and underpin all other ways to live our lives. We don’t need long lists of rules or suggestions. We just need to follow the answer Jesus gave to a Jewish lawyer who was trying to trick Him with what he thought was a difficult question. We read in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments”.
God is the only Source of principles for life. Unless principles are founded on what He has to say, then they will fall short of what we really need in life. His guidance won’t let us down.
Dear Father God. We know that You love us and care for us. Thank You for Your presence with use day by day. Amen.