Are They Really Principles?

It’s easy to talk about lofty principles.

It’s easy to follow those principles when following them leads to comfortable short-term outcomes.

It’s easy to impose the difficult consequences of our principles on others.

It’s hard to follow our principles consistently, regardless of circumstances, especially when the short-term outcomes might be disappointing or painful. But following principles during tough times is what makes them principles.

Principles aren’t really principles when you pick and choose when you’re going to follow them.

James and John, two of Jesus’ best friends, asked for positions of honor in His kingdom. Rather than scolding them, Jesus brought his disciples together and explained the kingdom principle of power and honor.

“You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.”

That’s such a nice principle, when you want others to be servant leaders. It’s a great way to control people, telling them they should get out there and serve. It’s a wonderful passive-aggressive trick to coerce others into serving me.

Jesus, though, took it a final step. He said we should follow His example.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Principles are principles when we follow them regardless of consequences. Jesus followed the principle of servant leadership all the way to a horrific death on a cross.

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Especially in turbulent times, it’s worth assessing our own principles. Also worth remembering that they’re not really principles if you only follow them when they get to your desired short-term results.

Following principles during tough times is what makes them principles.

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