Preparing Your Heart for Principles
Have you ever hear anyone say that it's not the fact of what they did that matters, it's the principle behind it? Why would one instance have more value than the other? If you take away the principle behind what they did, the actions still remain. If you eliminate the facts of the story, there is no principle left to judge with. Or is there?
A principle has an eternal role in our lives that most of us aren't consciously aware of. Some of them have been created by God, and exist regardless of what our actions are. By definition, a principle is "a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning." A biblical principle is meant to propel our way of thinking forward in such a way that it produces an ever-progressing lifestyle. Psalm 119:96 says, "To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless."
Principles don't lock us in to one way of thinking. They encourage us to be confident of what is true, while enabling us to see all of the aspects of life that they prove to be true in. In other words, principles work in many facets of our lives while still maintaining their own sense of integrity. They involve the heart behind why we do what we do, but they also don't completely dismiss the action of "doing" either.
It's the Law
Why does it sometimes seem like a struggle to follow the principles that God has laid out in His word? Many times a lack of energy concerning following the word of God stems from entering into self-sufficiency. Most of us can already conclude that we perform way too many things throughout the day that only involve ourselves and only serve to appease ourselves. We understand this fact quite well, as we have our guilty conscious screaming at us to do more and be more. We understand with our minds that we shouldn't be doing things in our own strength, but we continue to act out of this mindset because we aren't really aware that we're never really alone and so we are treating what should be a biblical principle as a law.
A law is "the system of rules which a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and which it may enforce by imposition of penalties." On the surface, a principle seems to be almost the same as a law, and they are similar. They both seek to regulate behavior. But a law pushes back against an action by imposing penalties if not adhered to, whereas a principle has the capability to move us forward in our actions and our thinking.
When we look at God's principles as though they were laws, we treat them like an equation without variables...the bible says that if I do A, then B will happen, so I'm going to do A so that B will happen. While there is some merit to just showing up and forming the habit of acting on God's principles, if this is all we do, then soon action will turn into entitlement. We'll begin to think that we are owed something because we did what needed to be done.
When we act on God's principles as though they are actually principles, we can still expect results from acting on them, but they are merely a result of trusting in God. They come as part of the aftermath of spending time with Him. They are an overflow from living out of our position with Christ rather than something we feel that we have to force to come into existence. The principles of God work because punishment has been dismissed through the cross.