- “Biblical Health Principles”
- “Five Biblical Principles to Deal With Stress”
- “Survive Today’s Economic Challenges: In Recession-Proof Living, Bill Wiese shares these biblical principles along with true stories of his experiences to demonstrate how anyone can achieve success by living according to God’s economic system. He shows you how to live a life that guarantees success—God’s way. Even if every effort and method you’ve tried has failed, living by God’s standard won’t.”
We’ve all seen these sorts of ads. Christian websites, magazines, and church bulletins are full of offers to apply God’s principles to whatever ails us. And this is a good idea, right? Secular advice is only as good as the person offering it, but advice based on God’s principles—how can we lose?
I’ve often heard the Bible referred to as “God’s handbook for living.” And yes, you can read scripture and come up with a list of “the right ways to do everything.” But, if that was what God had in mind when He wrote the Bible, He sure could have done a better job. Where’s the table of contents, ordered by topics such as child raising, dietary guidelines, difficult in-laws, and handling money? Why all the confusing stories? Why the parables? Why miracles?
The problem is that God didn’t write the Bible that way, and while it offers good advice, it also has a lot of “how not to succeed” passages. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to take Abraham’s advice about marriage—or Samson’s either. Likewise, Solomon may have been the wisest man who ever lived, but he was totally clueless when it came to women. And if your goal is gobs of money, better skip that passage about Jesus telling the rich young ruler to give it all away.
For many years, I didn’t really understand the point of the Bible. Yes, I learned about God, but it seemed so… random. Then, one Sunday, a speaker pointed out that the whole book is about Jesus. Starting with Genesis, he demonstrated how Jesus appears in every single book, although often in disguise. With new clarity, everything fell into place. The Bible isn’t a how-to book, it’s God’s autobiography, written for us.
God can use principles to guide us, but by definition, principles are limited to generic situations. You aren’t like everyone else—you are unique. Biblical financial classes tell you to tithe 10%, save 10%, and live on 80%. But God called Pete and I to spend everything—including our savings—on following Him. That goes against conventional wisdom, but God has been faithful to provide and we have learned to trust Him in ways we never would have learned in any other way.
There is certainly nothing wrong with establishing standards based on scripture, but please don’t stop there. Limiting ourselves to Biblical principles misses the entire point of the Bible—knowing God! Anyone can follow principles. There is no repentance, no commitment, no new birth. You might manage your finances, lose weight, or have a delightful marriage, but you’re still dead in your sins.
If all we get from the Bible is a list of principles and guidelines, we’re short-changing ourselves. Do we want a list of rules? Or do we want to know the loving creator of the universe?
Rather than following principles, I want to follow Jesus.