Those of you who have are regular readers of this blog probably already know that at one point in my life I had a bit of a problem with drugs and alcohol. For anyone new here, suffice it to say that when it came to following the rules, I didn’t. I won’t dig into the details on that, I’m sure most of you reading this have experienced your own rebellious streaks at one point or another. If I have learned anything, it’s that I’m not nearly as unique as I might have once thought myself.
This rebelliousness that most of us have gone through, or perhaps continue to struggle with, is nothing new. Give a thorough reading to the Old Testament and you’ll see example after example of individuals and groups who rebel against God. The words “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (ie: Judges 17:6) have regular occurrence. It seems by our very nature we are a pugnacious lot.
While there are all kinds of rules we are expected (and sometimes reluctant) to follow, such as income taxes, speed limits, and the like; let us be concerned with the laws that God has set before us. In the Bible, from beginning to end, we find God has lots of rules for us. I won’t take the time to dive into a detailed analysis of all God’s rules, for such an analysis is beyond the scope of this blog, so let’s just focus on a few examples, taken from the Ten Commandments.
“You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15) So let’s get honest with each other. Who has not stolen something at least once in their lives? Maybe it was just a little something, like a few office supplies from work. It didn’t have to be something big, it was still stealing if we appropriated for ourselves that which belonged to someone else. And someone who steals is called…a thief, right?
And then there’s the rule that, perhaps, I struggle with more than any other: “You must not covet your neighbor’s house…..or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17) I suspect I am not alone in my covetousness. For me, it’s usually gazing upon that beautiful new truck that my neighbor just bought, or some other shiny object in my neighbor’s garage for which I feel such avarice. Have you not found yourself desiring that which belongs to someone else? Go ahead and admit it!
We are always tempted to wonder why God has such rules for us. Perhaps the answer to that question actually lies, in part, within one of those rules. In Exodus 20:12 we find this truth: “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ah, there we have something “then you will live a long, full life….” Yes! Our understanding of why God has rules for us is revealed in that statement.
Now, almost from the first moments of our lives we are already failing to honor our parents. “Be home before dark.” “Eat your vegetables.” “Do your homework.” “Don’t play in the street.” I think we all know why our parents had those rules in place for us. In all likelihood, we have (or had) similar rules for our own children. Because we love them dearly and we want them to survive in this world and to be all they can be. And now we see, in the fifth commandment, that God wants the same for us: to survive in this world and to be all we can be!
In today’s world, a lot of people think God’s rules are archaic and irrelevant; but many of us have the same rules for our children as our parents’ had for us because, as adults, we have come to realize those rules were sensible in every way. And so it is with God’s rules, they made sense then and they make sense now – for it is only when we follow God’s rules that we experience all that life has to offer. It is only when we follow God’s rules that reach our highest potential and experience true freedom. And it is when we disregard those rules that we experience the most pain.
The psalmist wrote: “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.” (Psalm 19:7-8) So we see here that following God’s instructions will revive us, make us wise, bring joy to our hearts, and give us insight for living because God’s rules are perfect, trustworthy, right, and clear. And just as applicable for us today as our parents’ rules are for our own children or granchildren!
When I rebelled against my parents’ rules I was first and foremost rebelling against God and my life was a constant uphill struggle. Sure there were some happy times, but deep inside was constant unrest and deep dissatisfaction with life. But I have found the more I follow God’s instructions, like the psalmist says, the more peace and serenity I enjoy. I want you to know that peace and serenity, too, so I invite you to try life God’s way. What have you got to lose?
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