Letters to a Christian

Question 12


Generally Speaking VS Practically Speaking

I'm working on boundaries-- and I'm told I don't know when/how to say 'no'. So many scriptures don't look like I have a right to say 'no' to me.. I'm told scripture deals with attitudes and generalities--priciples and not specifics...

- How do you tell the difference between a principle taught in scripture versus a law (obedience). What I'm getting at is -- How do you not become legalistic about applying something- How do you know when to quit? ie:. Proverbs 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. Proverbs 25:20-22

   Practically, you'd be nuts to feed and clothe your enemy forever, or take them into your home ect... So how does one deal with scriptures that tell us to do these things?

    What do I do with putting others first if they are continually selfish, and nobody else ever gets a turn--like me because I'm busy putting them first?

    I know we are to forgive 70X7, but does that mean you continue to put yourself under un-safe leadership if it's your husband or parents you're continuing to forgive?

    How about the one in Hebrews that talks about not having given to point of shedding blood?  We never do that unless we are dead, so what do I do with that one?

I've tried really hard to walk these verses out, and some have come close to killing me--really. It's just plain unsafe emotionally and physically. I've been told I just don't understand the difference between principles and laws-- ok. I give up, I don't. I'm just trying to be obedient, and being obedient gets me used up and hurt. Where does obedience become lunacy, and does it matter? --Remember, I'm talking scripturally here. I'm trying to find peace with these scriptures. I'm tired of getting beat up with them.

help me if you can...??  I'm feeling like life works better abandoning God's principles, (and getting a bit selfish)  and I know that's wrong...

BCBSR Response

To put my 3 cents in - first concerning "law", there are different kinds of laws. In fact a priniciple itself can be spoken of as a law. But then there are also regulations, which could also be said to be laws - which are particular applications of the principle, sometimes geared to particular circumstances.

As for "law" there's really only one for the Christian:

Galatians 5:14  For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Romans 13:10  Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

The "law" of love is really a principle. To obey the law of love we must derive particular applications based upon the law of love. The commands we find throughout the Bible are particular applications of the law of love.

You mention for example, "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink." Proverbs 25:20-22 This is an application of the law of love. But understand the sense in which this is spoken. Many of the proverbs are written in the sense of "Generally speaking". Proverbs is about applying wisdom. It gives general applications and it is up to you applying wisdom to derive a specific application for your circumstances. Your observation, "Practically, you'd be nuts to feed and clothe your enemy forever, or take them into your home ect" shows you possess some wisdom. So much of the commands are to be taken as "generally speaking", but their applications "practically speaking".

Much of the Sermon on the Mount is proverbial in this sense. You might view my web page on the Sermon on the Mount to see the sense it which it might be read. http://www.bcbsr.com/survey/sgosp6.html



  This is really, really helpful. You've helped me to understand how scripture is superficial/general, and that more is needed for application--It made no sence to me before. Your words have helped to untangle that... Hummm.. I've got a lot to think on, and ask for understanding for. I really appreciate your direction and clarity. I think that's where I need to start praying. Growing in wisdom is what I need.I know the word well--applying it is a 'whole nother enchilada'. I'll definately check out your website.

thanks for your time, and for reaching out to help me.



The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015