Rules require obedience. Principles require contemplation.
Rules demand enforcement. Principles demand example.
Rules are for only for the wicked, keeping them in check (1 Timothy 1:9), but principles are universal.
Rules are written for specific situations. Rules are brittle. Outside their original contexts, rules break easily.
Principles are timeless, remaining relevant and providing stability through the centuries.
Principles are more difficult yet more rewarding than rules. They’re all throughout Scripture, but you’ll have to look hard to find them. If you see an imperative repeated, rephrased, and modeled, you’re probably looking at a principle. Let’s use the Sabbath as an example:
- God set an example in creation, modeling the Sabbath for all generations to come (Genesis 2:2–3).
- He taught it to Israel through Moses (Exodus 20:8–11).
- Jesus explained it further (Mark 2:27).
The rule of Sabbath mandated that no work be done on the first day of the week.
The principle of Sabbath invites us to set aside a day to rest and reconnect with God.
Whenever you find an imperative in Scripture, search for the principle that supports it. Ask yourself: Why did God command this? What is he trying to teach me?
What are your favorite scriptural principles, and where do you find them? Let us know in comments.