In my absence, a colleague decided to offer some advice to my staff related to some personal life choices. When I returned, the staff expressed to me how this advice was not appreciated. “Yes, she meant well, but . . . how dare she!” was exclaimed. Once I asked what exactly was said, I responded, “Well, I say that all the time.”
“Yeah, YOU can say that! Not her!”
Perhaps, my colleague, in this instance as well as myself in other instances, could benefit from following a model God demonstrated in Exodus chapter 20 the next time we dare tell someone else how to live their life.
The events of this passage took place shortly after the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. At the foot of Mount Sinai, God showed his people the true function and beauty of his laws. But first, before he communicated his law, he reminded them that He had rescued them from slavery and that He did so out of love.
“And God spoke all these words: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’” (Exodus 20:1-2)
Then, in the next 10 verses He goes on to give them the 10 Commandments.
God’s love always comes before His law.
He intentionally reminded the Israelites back then, as He does with us today, that he accepts us, then he expects us to obey.
I now believe that the issue at work was not that my colleague’s words of wisdom, correction, or advice were “not good” or were coming from ill-motives. The issue was the lack of relationship between the people involved and the fact that this sharing was not preceded by any acts of love.
Perhaps, you are aware of a situation into which you’d like to speak wisdom. Consider following God’s model: love before law. God had a relationship with the Israelites and loved them in a way they understood. It was from this vantage point, and with that memory in their hearts and minds, that he was able to communicate his plan for how they should live.
Let us follow suit. Before we offer the words of wisdom, or the correction, or the advice— before we go on telling people how they should live—make sure there are memories of you loving them and accepting them.
If this is not possible for you right now, love them enough to let them be. There are no exceptions to God’s model if we want to see God’s intended results.
It always has been and always will be love before law.