Keeping the Rules

1 John 5 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

Years back my brother-in-law Mike and my sister would often come visit from Europe during the summer and we’d head up to the family cottage for at least a week.  With large grass fields, we would often make up various sports when we were bored of standard ones.  Volleyball, would turn into foot-head ball.  A casual game of Frisbee turned into Frisbee golf (yes before it was “a thing”).  The early stages of these games would always have something in common, it was all about establishing the rules.  How many times could the ball bounce on the ground initially and between hits?  Could you plant one foot and reach with the Frisbee to sink the Frisbee putt?  Rules would continue to be modified until we felt we got it just right and then those were the ones we would abide with for the next week of competition and the eventual crowning of the Grand Champion.  The obvious question, however, is why were such rules needed at all?  These are just silly games that we created, so what was the point of rules?

Any athlete reading this will know that a game without rules is little fun (not taking anything away from just tossing a ball back and forth for fun).  If there are no boundaries set, then there is no objective way to determine who scores points and who eventually wins.  There is no guidance for conduct, no frame of reference for what is right and what is wrong within the framework of the game.

God recognized the need for rules in everyday life and therefore presented them to man; they are called commands, or the Law.  It began with the ten commandments presented to His people through Moses (Exodus 20: 1-17).  King David recognized the value of these commands; in fact, he says: Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” (Psalm 119:97).  It is not surprising that David is described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

Jesus expands on the original commands.  He commands his followers to: love one another (John 13:34); to love your enemies (Matthew 5:44); to be reconciled with others (Matthew 5:23-24); to honour your parents (Matthew 15:4); to pay your taxes and not cheat the government (Matthew 22:19-21); and to host the poor who can’t repay you (Luke 14:12-14).

The Bible makes it very clear that we are not saved by keeping God’s commands, “For it is by grace you have been saved —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephes. 2:8-9).  However, we cannot miss the key truth that we show our love for God by keeping His commands.  In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).  We strive to keep God’s commands out of our love for Him.  And we keep those commands by recognizing that we are a new creation in Christ and only through Him can we keep those commands.  Are you showing your love for God by keeping his commands?

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