There are a number of commands in the Bible that really aren’t commands, they are principles. A command is black and white and easy to understand, but a principle is a guide line with no real absolute so you never are real sure if you have kept it or not. Many of the principles in the New Testament are hard for me to know for sure how well or not so well I am doing. It bugs the heck out of me not knowing for sure if I did what I was supposed to do or not.
One of those principles is in 2 Timothy 2:4, No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
I know what the verse is saying, “keep your life simple so you have time to serve the Lord and others.” But, how simple? I don’t know. I could function with 10% of what I presently own, should I downsize to that point? I don’t know. But what I do know is that the principle keeps an anchor out in my life so that I am careful as I think about purchasing anything new in my life.
Another principle is in 1 Corinthians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” I guess the first question I have is the same one asked of Jesus, “who is my neighbor?” “What is the extent of ‘good’ for my neighbor?” “What if I don’t like them?” “What if I don’t agree with them politically?”
Probably the intent of these principles and many others in the Bible is to create some tension or pressure that moves us steadily and maybe even slowly in the direction of the character and lifestyle of the principle. We probably never reach perfection but I think there will come a point in the life of someone striving to please the Lord where they will know that they have come close.