It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’ (Genesis 3:3 NLT)

Really? Is that really what God said? Eve is approached by the serpent, who challenges her to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – the tree from which God told her and her mate not to eat. He never said “Don’t touch it or you will die.” That’s kind of what we do with the things God says, though, isn’t it?

We try to take it one more step. We try to build a hedge around God’s word, so that if we don’t break through the hedge, we won’t break God’s word either. In Jesus’ day, there was a group of people that tried to do the same thing. There were so many ritualistic laws that were strapped to the people’s necks like a yoke. It was weighing them down.

What happens when faith is about following a list of rules instead of walking in relationship with God? It becomes a burden, not a joy. In the end, we can get much more legalistic about our faith than God. We have to be careful about that – because that’s when we are most vulnerable to temptation and sin.

The next time you start to think, “Well, I have to do this and this and this in order to be a ‘good Christian,'” then remember this: God loves you in spite of your flaws. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you should do because of your faith – but those are things done as a response to your faith, not as a requirement of your faith.