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My Way or the Highway

Two toddlers are playing when one yanks a toy away shouting, “Mine!”  

We teach kids to learn to share and work together to be successful in life, but how often do we follow our own advice? Adults don’t yank toys from each other, but we still operate like “Mine!” is the most important word. We fight over “more mature” things like who makes the rules. Rule-makers have power, control access and judge the lives of others.  

In Jesus’ day, some of the most troubling rule-makers were the Pharisees, religious people who decided their ways were right and all other ways were wrong.  They praised themselves and criticized everybody else. They had no clue about what God really wanted for, or from, His people.  For the Pharisees, when it came to doing life, it was “my way or the highway.”  Jesus had little patience with their nonsense, saying to them in Mark 7:9, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!”

Pharisees still exist today. The modern equivalent are the church-going-self-praising Christians who expect non-Christians to act like Christians and believe all Christians should look and act like them. When rule-keeping becomes the basis for our faith, we’re missing the point. Living well is not about following rules, but about living in relationship with Jesus and loving others the way He would.


  • Take some time to think about  why you do or don’t do certain things. Is your motivation based on following the rules or following a person?
  • What’s one way you see modern-day Christians falling into the same trap as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day?
  • In Mark 7:23, Jesus says what’s inside us will determine what comes out of us. What are you allowing to shape your heart? Does it need to change?

You can read more about the book of Mark here

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