One of the ways people seek to control is by defining the terms. We think that if we can make the rules for the game, we can always win (and others will never succeed). God, as our Creator and in His absolute goodness, has the right to make the rules for His creatures. Adam and Eve challenged this in the Garden, and men and women have been doing it ever since. We want to become experts in something (or several things), and then set out to impose our expertise on everyone around us. We are in control. We have it figured out. We are right; they are wrong. We have worked out all the details; they are ignorant, corrupted, or evil. As experts, we can sit on our throne and pass judgment on the masses while congratulating ourselves on a job well-done. The sad irony is that when we try to manipulate the rules in order to win, we always lose. We never get the results we wanted because we are cheating.

Such “expertise” is often built upon the abuse of the truth. Robert Capon observes that heresy “…uses the enthusiasm it gathers from its one truth to make war on all the rest.” Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for this kind of expertise when He said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt. 23:23-24).

The expert becomes more-and-more isolated because his expertise must be maintained at all costs. The community is a threat because they won’t cooperate and follow the rules. And so, the expert’s circle shrinks to a manageable size. Patience, long-suffering, and kindness are simply forms of compromise with the truth. Experts are always stressed, fretful, and sad because there are always people who are not doing it right or who are judging them for being right.

Those abiding in the word of God can rest. Jesus already kept all the rules for us. Being patient and kind toward others is just fine, because God said so; those are part of His rules. We don’t have to be anxious anymore, because we are thankful instead. Our sadness has been turned to joy in Christ. We are out of control; God is in control.