When Rules Trump Relationships

As a former school administrator I frequently had to deal with discipline.  There were two basic approaches advocated to do away with misbehaviour.  The most immediately popular way to deal with sin was to legislate it away, in other words we could make a new law.  There is no end to the number of laws a Christian school can invent if it really puts its mind to it.  This was the Pharisee’s solution to making the Sabbath holy.  However, they missed the main point.

God’s rules support relationship.  we should not legislate away problems so much as ‘relate’ them away.  we should talk with each other and find what the deeper motivators are for the presenting behaviours.  We should heal.

Luke 13:10-17

 10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

 14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”

 15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

 17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.


  1. On what day did this reading take place?
  2. What did Jesus do?
  3. How did the Pharisees overlook what is really important about the law?
  4. Are the rules in your work made to serve people or for control?
  5. How can you bring a more relational approach to any environment stifled by rules?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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