Rules; January 20, 2021

Leviticus 26:3 “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, … ‘”

The Bible has a lot of “if/then” places in it. We love to latch onto “the promises of God,” as we see them, but often we forget the conditions specified. What follows this verse is a description of a really idyllic agricultural society, but then verse 14 picks up with the bad things that come from not listening obediently to God. Thankfully, from verse 40 it speaks of what follows confession and repentance. Frankly, what we do matters! We are indeed saved by grace through faith, and not by what we do, (Ephesians 2:8-9) but actions have consequences. Over the past year the whole world has been focused on COVID-19. The deaths have been tragic, certainly, but statistics show that of those who have died from it, the average was over two “co-morbidities” per person. That is, they had more than one other condition that could have caused their death all by itself. And to be blunt, the most common of those was obesity, which ultimately comes down to lifestyle choices. We forget that our bodies are on loan to us by God, and we fail either to take proper care of them or to use them to do what the Owner desires. Such things have consequences! I keep coming back to the reality that God’s rules are far more for our benefit than they are for His. Just a few days ago I was remembering Jesus’ statement that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) We complain about God’s rules, not realizing they are all for our good. As John said, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:3-5) In other words, the path to a victorious life is obedient faith. That is actually one of the major messages of the whole Bible!

I have been on the receiving end of the good side of many of God’s promises, both from the obedience of my ancestors to God and from my own having some sense knocked into me. I have also tasted some of the negatives, and I have occasionally skated on some very thin ice. As a school teacher and as a pastor I am often in the position of one making the rules, and I need to be very careful that any rules I make are genuinely for the benefit of those to whom they are delivered and not arbitrary, and particularly not to stoke my ego. As much as possible I am to listen to what God says about each situation and transmit that faithfully, not distorting it in any way. And of course, I am to be focused first on my own obedience to God, and not be so worried about the other guy. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed fulfill all of Your conditions for blessing and help others to do so as well, never from a “high horse” but always speaking the truth in love, so that together we may defeat the lies of the devil and walk in all that You intend for us, for Your glory. 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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