So many of you seem to be confused about what kind of Person I am, and I want to remind you of some things that I said a long, long time ago. I want you to know that, no matter what anybody else tells you, everything I ever said is still true. Please remember that I created you with my own hands, and I love you. 1
When I ask you to do or not to do something, it’s because I want to you to live lives that are filled with peace. So here are ten standards of living that I need you to remember:
- Please stay right next to me, and don’t let anybody come between us, causing you lose sight of me. You know how, when you take your own kids to a store or a park, you tell them to stay right next to you? Why do you do that? Because you don’t want them to get lost … well, I’m exactly the same; I don’t want you to get lost. So stay close! I’d have you hold my hand if I could.
- Please don’t get all caught up in the things around you. Things can separate you from me just like people can. My heart breaks at the thought of losing even one of you; so don’t get so wrapped up in things that you can’t see me anymore. I’ll make sure you have everything you need.
- Please don’t misrepresent me to the people around you. You are my face, my hands, my feet … my heart to the people you meet. What you say and do in my name shapes how people see me. If you show them that I’m angry, impatient or arbitrary, they won’t want to come closer to me. If you tell them I’m hovering over them to catch them doing something wrong, they’ll try to hide from me. Show them how much I love them – that I would rather die than live without them.
- Please remember to keep the appointment I’ve made for us to be together every week. I made it way back when I created your world. I’ll be waiting for you every seventh day. I’ve named it the Sabbath. This doesn’t mean I’m not right there with you all the other days, but Sabbath is different … I made it especially so that we could spend twenty-four hours together, no matter what else was going on in your life. I made it to help you remember that you are the most important thing in the universe to me. My heart breaks when you don’t keep that appointment.
- Please take good care of your parents. The way you think about and behave toward them is a lot like the way you will think about and behave toward me. You may not completely realize it yet, but your parents feel about you a lot like I feel about you.
- Please do your very best to get along with the people around you. If you hate or hurt other people, you have lost sight of me.
- Please remember that I made Eve for Adam so that they could understand what love means, so they could take care of each other and have children together. Marriage is just as special as the Sabbath; it’s important to guard the edges.
- Please remember that people are more important than things. When things become so important to you that you feel like you have to steal them, those things have gotten between you and me.
- Please remember to love the people around you. Build them up so that both you and they come closer to me.
- Please be happy for your neighbors when they are successful, and be content with what you have as well.
Now, some folks are going to tell you that living by these rules is going to be restrictive. They may even tell you that I said these things to keep you from having any fun. But that’s just not true. I tell you to live this way because I made you and I know what’s going to keep you happy in the long run. Some people will also tell you that I ask you to live by these rules to control you or even to make it more difficult for you to live with me in Heaven. That’s not true either. I want every one of you to be with me in Heaven. The problem is, that when sin entered the world, that became much more complicated. I know that it is impossible for you to keep these rules perfectly, and keeping them just to keep them, won’t help at all. But my Son and I put a plan together long before I created you, to take care of that. All you have to do is accept my Son’s sacrifice for the mistakes you’ve made.
The truth is, though, that these are the rules we live by in Heaven. If you find them uncomfortable while you’re on earth, you’ll feel the same way about them in Heaven.
Well, there you go; think about what I’ve said. Remember that I love you and I can’t wait to be with you. I’ll be waiting for you next Sabbath.
“Every command of God is built upon a promise from God. Every divine call to action (obedience) is, at the same time, a divine summons to trust in God’s promises (faith). The promises of God are commands in disguise, and vice versa. God commands what [H]e commands because [H]e promises. After the Exodus, God promised Israel that it would rain bread from heaven every day except the Sabbath. God therefore commanded Israel not to gather more than their daily ration, except on Friday. God’s promise was inextricably linked with a prohibition. Conversely, trust in God’s promise would mean obedience to [H]is commands.
“Disbelief always shows up as an act of disobedience, since every promise carries with it a command. Every time we disobey God, it is because we are not trusting [H]is promises.”[1. Scott J. Hafemann, The God of Promise and the Life of Faith: Understanding the Heart of the Bible (Crossway, 2001)
Think about this: Are we being legalistic if, when we play baseball, we use regulation bats and balls? If we call three strikes an out? What qualifies as a foul ball, a pop-fly and a home run? If home plate is always 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher’s mound? Would we want to play baseball with a team that didn’t follow the rules? Could we even call it baseball if we didn’t use the rules?
Are we being legalistic if we remember Mother’s Day and Father’s Day? If we keep marriage sacred? If we don’t take things that don’t belong to us? Or do we live that way because we love our parents, our spouses and the people around us? If we keep the commandments, are we being legalistic or are we showing our love for the God who gave us a better way to live?
“The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” Psalm 19:7-8 NIV
Jesus, Himself said,
“…‘if anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.’” John 14:23-24 NIV
Come on, who’s gonna argue with that?