As we approach any undertaking we should always pause to consider what the principles or end we’re after verses the methods or means we’re using to get us there. When we get these mixed around we can become slaves to our methods and free to stop short of our goal.
Let’s say for example that you want to have a healthy heart. One principle component of a healthy heart might be exercise. You could choose from dozens of methods to achieve this principle, jogging, swimming, dancing, etc… Say you chose jogging, it’s cheap and you can do it anywhere and it requires less coordination than dancing. After a while you forgot why you jog, but you just knew you had to check it off for the day. Next you start becoming an evangelist for jogging. You have to do so should everyone else. But then one day you start getting shin splints and then you have knee problems, pretty soon you find that you have to give up jogging. Now you feel like failure, but you’ve long forgotten about why you started jogging in the first place, so you sit on the couch and mope. You’ve become a slave to a method. Methods
change, principles don’t. In reality, you’re free to take up swimming now, or some other method that fits your end goal of having a healthy heart. And if you had always been free you could have offered that same freedom to others.
When it comes to studying the Bible I think it is important to keep principles and methods straight. We want to know Christ and be saved by the power of his resurrection, we want to be obedient to all his revealed will, we want to know the character of the judge and Creator, and we want to worship Him. Our plan of study will vary with the seasons and days of life. There is great freedom in having mastery over our choice of methods. We can identify problems and solve them when we have the end in mind, but if we latch on to a method, we’ll most likely get stuck at some point and get discouraged.
Next: Part 5, Some Principles