But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. (Matt. 23:23)

When Brian ended up staying at our house for three days, I have to admit I was a little anxious. You see, Brian is in our youth group and is ten years younger than my husband and I. Finding that line between relationship and direction was something that made me uncomfortable. It felt strange laying out rules for a fifteen-year-old whom I consider to be a friend of mine. But we couldn’t let our lives fall into chaos while he was staying with us.

At this point in Matthew, Jesus told the Pharisees that the law and a relationship with God go hand in hand. He used tithing as an example. He never told them to stop their tithing practice but instead embrace God as the priority. Learning God’s heart was the more important matter. It doesn’t mean that the structure they had in place was a bad thing. It was there for a purpose—and a good one.

What I learned when Brian stayed at our house was that because of the relationship we had with him, he didn’t mind the structure we laid out for our home. He listened without question or complaint. It was because it came out of relationship that it didn’t feel like a rule. That is exactly what God desires for us.

Embrace who God is as well as embracing his law.

Callie Kemmerer is a wife, fur mama, alumni of Kingswood University, and lover of Jesus who is striving after God’s heart and will each day.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.