PLAYING BY THE RULES
By Céleste Perrino-Walker
Wouldn’t it be great if we could pick and choose which rules we wanted to obey and which ones we wanted to break? You could ignore the speed limit, let’s say, if you were late for curfew one night. Or you could bump off the bully who won’t leave you alone at school and get away with murder. Or you could steal a hot, new iPhone, and no one would throw you in jail.
Breaking the rules sounds like fun until you’re on the other side of them. If you’re the one someone wants to bump off, that wouldn’t be much fun for you. Or if someone was allowed to steal your iPhone and get away with it, that would really hurt. If someone you loved was killed in a car accident because they were driving way over the speed limit, well, that would really bum you out, wouldn’t it?
Mainly we like rules to keep other people in line and figure we don’t really need them ourselves. We’re just fine doing exactly as we please, thank you very much. But once you start breaking the rules, or picking and choosing which ones you’ll obey and which ones you’ll break, where do you draw the line? It might be different for everyone. Someone might think murder is okay, but speeding is not, while someone else might not blink at speeding but think stealing is wrong.
Who gets to decide?
We have to remember that all rules have a purpose. They are meant to keep us safe, not to prevent us from having fun. In society, rules help everyone to get along and live in peace; they keep us safe and happy. Picking and choosing which rules we want to obey would create utter chaos with everyone doing what they think is best. That’s called anarchy, and no one would want to live in a society like that.
Does it surprise you that many of the rules society thinks are important are based on the Ten Commandments that God gave humanity? Because God made us and knows us, He knows what is best for us. But just like any rules, some of God’s rules may seem harder to keep than others. In fact, the closer you get to God the more you might start to feel boxed in. Maybe you didn’t get to study for a major exam that you could ace if you cheated. Or maybe you’ve found a particularly clever way to get back at someone who has hurt you. Or maybe God is asking you to give up a sinful behavior that you just don’t want to give up.
In the face of making a difficult decision to walk away from something you desperately want, it might even seem as though it would be easier just to ditch God rather than follow Him if He’s going to be so inflexible and demanding.
Now hear this
But here’s something very important you should know about God. He never asks us to give up anything that is good for us. He only asks us to give up things that are bad for us. And He never asks us to give something up without giving us something better in its place. For example, God doesn’t want us to have casual sex with just anyone because He designed us to have deeply fulfilling sex with our spouse. God doesn’t want us to lust after the things we don’t have because He knows that we’ll never be content if we don’t learn to be thankful for and appreciate the things we do have. Every rule offers us one of God’s good gifts in place of the stink-bomb that the world offers us.
The other thing you should know about God is that He doesn’t expect us to be able to keep His rules without His help. Not only does He give us the rules that will help us to live better lives, but He gives us the strength to live by those rules so that we can claim the better life He promises us is possible when we live by the rules. What is the one condition that God requests for keeping His rules? Jesus said it best: “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15). I call that a win-win situation, don’t you?
With God’s rules to guide you and His power to help you live safely inside them, you will be fully equipped to live the very best life possible.
Tags: Dealing With Rules, Commandments, Christian Life
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