Four-year-old Seth had a penchant for adventure, and the sight of an empty laundry basket at the top of the stairs proved just too inviting. Climbing in, he launched himself down the sixteen steps, tumbling into the door beyond the landing. His mother raced to investigate.

“Don’t you ever slide down the stairs in a laundry basket!” she scolded. “Okay,” he agreed.

Minutes later his mother heard the telltale bump-bump-bump-bump as something tobogganed down the stairs. Again she scurried around the corner to find Seth picking himself up.

“I told you never to do that again!” she yelled in exasperation.

“I didn’t,” he replied. “I used cardboard this time.”

Seth found a loophole in his mother’s instructions that she never intended. A different mistake would have been for him to define the rule too narrowly—such as if he had chosen to avoid staircases altogether.

In Exodus 35, God instructed His people on the importance of Sabbath rest. “You have six days each week for your ordinary work,” He told them, “but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest” (Exodus 35:2). Over the centuries, religious leaders had made too much of this law. When Jesus’ disciples picked some grain to eat on the Sabbath, the Pharisees demanded to know why they were breaking the law. Jesus defended His disciples and said, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

God wasn’t trying to limit the Israelites; nor was Seth’s mother attempting to ruin his fun. When we understand and follow the spirit of the law, we gain the freedom to fully enjoy God’s gifts to us—like Seth’s gift of a spirit of adventure.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: John 8:21-59