But some of the Pharisees said, "Why do you do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?" (Luke 6:2 NASB)
The Pharisees were experts in the law. They not only knew the law, they interpreted the law, and they happily dispensed their interpretation of the law as law itself. In a way, it wasn't just God's Law, it was their Law, too, and they fiercely defended what they saw as their territory.
The disciples were hungry and they grazed as they walked through the grain fields. Technically, it could be said that picking the handful or two of grain they ate was harvesting, and rubbing it between their hands to separate the wheat from the chaff was threshing, both of which were "work". How foolish it would be, though, for the Pharisees to complain about the disciples harvesting and threshing a few handfuls of grain in violation of the Sabbath when they were walking with The Lord of the Sabbath!
Jesus does not call us to a set of unbending rules but to a dynamic relationship with God Himself. That relationship (like the new wine from Luke 5) is one of change, growth, and steady maturity, not just a list of tasks to be accomplished. The disciples walked out that relationship for all the world to see. While the Pharisees were steadily checking off tasks on the "must-do" list and carefully avoiding the "do-nots", yet trying to sneak a few "do-nots" to the "can-do" list, in hopes of obtaining righteousness, the motley crew of disciples were laughing and eating with the One who WAS their Righteousness.
It's easy to be a rule-checking Pharisee, especially when we are looking at someone else's actions! As we pray for our loved ones today, be sure to focus on their need for relationship, not on their need for another list to check and do.
Pray first of all that we would live out our dynamic relationship with Christ in the same joyful way the disciples did, and that our loved ones would recognize the relationship as infinitely desirable. Pray that they will embrace a relationship with Jesus for themselves.