When we were kids, my mom had rules that we had to follow. They were nothing out of the ordinary: be in by 6 p.m. on a school night, always let her know where we were, no dessert unless we ate all our vegetables, do our chores and homework before going out to play, etc.
Like I said, there was nothing really out of the ordinary about them, but my siblings and I sure hated having rules. I couldn’t wait until I was an adult and I would be free from the oppressive rule of my parents. I would stay out as late as I wanted; I would go wherever I wanted—whenever I wanted; I would never make my bed again; and I would eat ice cream and pizza for every meal!
What I didn’t consider then was that my mother’s rules were not to oppress us, but rather, for the sake of creating good habits in us that would benefit us in our future lives. Now, as an adult, I cherish a good night’s sleep and I realize the importance of taking care of my body as well as the world around me. I do this, in great part, because of the rules that my mother once set for me.
Those rules became a very real part of my life that helped me develop good living principles; but they are no longer applicable to me—at least not in the direct sense. It is possible for me to stay out after 6pm on a weekday and still keep the spirit of my mother’s rules.
Today, many people are confused about the Bible and all of the rules found within it.
There is always someone asking, “How can you believe in a book that says you should stone a person to death if break the Sabbath?” I would respond to that question, “Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to stone a person who breaks the Sabbath.”
They might say, “Sure it does, in Exodus 31:14 where God said, ‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.’” And to that I would have to reply, “No, that rule was for an immature nation of Israel in order to prepare them for the life ahead of them.”
That scripture is an important part of knowing who we are. But like my mother’s rules, which I was too immature to grasp the benefits of, it no longer applies to me literally. You see, the principle behind it has always been more important that the rule itself. The laws given—all of them—were for the sake of instilling Godly habits into the people who did not yet have the grace that comes from the work of Jesus Christ.
They are important because they remind us that we are to follow certain principles if we hope to live full lives. And part of those principles include taking a day to rest and worship God, caring for our bodies, honoring our parents, being fair in the way we treat others, caring for the world around us, and trusting God to always do and command what is best for us.
In the book of Leviticus, God says, “You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground–those which I have set apart as unclean for you” (Leviticus 20:25 NIV).
This means, in part, that in the end, the decision to obey or to disobey God is up to you. You can try and be technical about His word, you can try and ignore His word, or you can obey His commands as they were meant to be obeyed—for the sake of Godly living.
Which are you doing?
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