April 23, 2017

Deuteronomy 5:29 “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children for ever!”

Here we have God’s motive for His commandments to us. It is odd that we have such trouble believing this is His motive, but then the devil has been lying to us about God’s motives ever since the Garden of Eden. Like irrational children, our favorite word is “NO.” The very fact that something is forbidden makes it attractive to us, and we get into incredible messes as a result. This is why it is the height of cruelty to fail to teach your children to be obedient. It is politically incorrect, but Proverbs hits the nail on the head: “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24) This theme is picked up in Hebrews 12:1-11, which quotes Proverbs 3:11-12. God is the perfect Father, but we have forgotten what a father is supposed to be like. John hits on the same issue from a slightly different angle. “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.” (1 John 5:3-4) God wants us to have victory in our daily lives, so He gives us instructions to enable that. We forget, or fail to trust, that God really is love, (1 John 4:8) and everything He does is a reflection of that. What we see as His wrath is the natural and logical consequence of our ignoring and rejecting His love.

I had the huge advantage of parents who loved God and loved me enough to discipline me. They erred more on the side of laxness than in the other direction, but at least they didn’t train me to break rules, which is what can happen when parents are arbitrary in their discipline. (I have always felt that unnecessary school rules, particularly, are training in ignoring rules.) I think I’ve understood most of my life that God’s rules are for my good, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always abided by them. I’ve hurt myself and others quite unnecessarily more times than I could count. As a pastor I am in the position of expressing God’s rules to others, and that’s often not easy. I am to speak the truth in love, and remember that failing to speak the truth is not love. I need to love people enough to risk their not liking me. That can be a hard one, but it shows I’m more concerned about me than I am about them. God loved me enough to send His Son for me, and Jesus loved me enough to suffer unspeakably for me. I need to obey Jesus’ command to love those around me as He loves me, (John 13:34-35) because that is the way of greatest blessing for us all.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed be obedient to all You tell me, knowing without question that Your way is the very best possible for me, whatever it might look like in the short run to my natural eyes. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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