“So then, the law is holy… righteous and good” Romans 7:12
Most of us don’t really like rules. I don’t know why, but deep down inside we have an aversion to people telling us what to do and what not to do. Wanting to dump the rules and “go it on our own” implies that we think we know what is best and that left to ourselves we can manage life in good and productive ways. But you and I both know by experience that this is not always the case.
I wonder if God ever feels like I used to feel as a father. We lived in a neighborhood where the best place to play ball was in the street. One evening, my 5-year-old came to me with his glove and bat slung over his shoulder and said, “Hey, Dad, I’m going to play ball!”
“Where?” I asked, to which he replied, “In the street with my friends.”
Nothing made me happier than seeing my kids have a good time. But the thought of little Joe playing in the street concerned me. So I got down on his eye level and told him that I loved him too much to let him play in the street. “Quite frankly,” I said, “I don’t like to think of your little body getting integrated into the grill of a Mack truck! If you want to have fun playing ball, then get your friends and we’ll pile into the car and go to the park where playing ball is supposed to happen. But you can’t play ball in the street.”
God knows how dangerous Satan’s traffic is. And He is far more interested in our safety than He is in our unbridled pleasure. So, because He loves us, He has given us rules to keep us free from the damage of playing in Satan’s street.
To keep us from the self-destruction of bitterness, He has a rule about forgiving and loving our enemies. To keep us safe from the treachery of dishonesty and deceit, He has told us not to lie and to live instead for what is true. In fact, when you think of it, all of His rules are really for our good. Just take a look at the Ten Commandments. Life works better when we don’t lie to each other, steal from each other, or take each other’s life. We are all better off when we don’t covet each other’s property, sleep with each other’s wives, or gossip and bear false witness against our neighbor. How ridiculous is it that we are trying to put the Ten Commandments in the dumpster in our society? Who’d want to live in the chaos of a world where things like lying, stealing, cheating, sleeping around, greed, and bitterness are the norm? Did I hear you say that we are almost there?
Well, I’m not among those who believe that left to ourselves we can figure out how to do life. God knows we need help and thankfully in His love He blessed us with a few really important rules.
As the psalmist says: Blessed is the person who doesn’t scoff at God’s law! When you delight in the law of the Lord and become “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither,” whatever you do will prosper (Psalm 1:1-3).
Let’s hear it for the rules!
- Do you consistently struggle with keeping any of God’s “rules”? Be honest with yourself. Examine your thoughts, attitudes, and actions.
- What have you found to be the downside of breaking those rules?
- What can you do to begin today to celebrate the importance and goodness of a specific rule of God that you struggle to keep?
- Pray through a short list of God’s rules, thanking Him for the safety and sanity they bring to your life. Be specific about why you are grateful for their impact in your life.