Rules and regulations are important and certainly needed. If we would not have rules, there would be no boundaries in the world. People could drive on any side of the road. There would be no need to stand in a line. These are only a few examples but it is easy to see things would be very different. Structure would disappear.
Even so, there are two things that are important to remember. We must remember that none of us keep all of the “rules.” We do not follow God’s Law. Read the Law of Moses. Read the Ten Commandments. It won’t take long to see that we fall short. In Romans 3, Paul is quick to profess that we all fall short. Accept it. Second, grace is above the Law. The love of Christ, the grace of God—with this we have salvation because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.
In Colossians 2, we read of people who were trying to keep the Law. Though Christ fulfilled the Law, though we no longer live by the Law, people were still trying to submit to the Law. Do not handle. Do not taste. Do not touch. Do not. Do not. Living with these regulations enslaved the followers. No longer were these people living by grace; instead, these people were slaves of the Law. They were asked if they still belonged to the world. Why? Because those in the world follow the laws of the world, while those who belonged to Jesus lived by grace. By following the Law, they were basically saying that the blood of Christ wasn’t enough. You decide. Where do you belong? For me, I belong to Jesus.
“Why do you live as if you still belong to the world? [Why do you submit to rules and regulations? – as] Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them].” – Colossians 2:20b-21 [AMP]
My friend was telling me about what her daughter has been doing while on safety patrol. I couldn’t stop from laughing as I imagined her giving citations to other students for not following the rules. I can see it so clearly in my mind. But after thinking about it, I realized that if I was a safety patrol girl today, I would probably do the same thing.
We have rules and order for a reason. I find myself being a stickler for following rules, especially in the areas of driving. Yes, I break rules. But I more often find myself bothered by seeing the rules being broken. I like order. I like rules. I like organization. I am not fond of chaos. I catch myself even putting things back when I am shopping because items are “not where they are meant to be.”
God from the chaos created order. He is into organization. He likes order. Read Leviticus. Read the instructions for the Temple. Read the instructions for the Ark. I could go on and on. As you read the Bible, you read again and again of little details. Specific details. There is great attention to detail. Today I pray you dig into the Word and appreciate God’s attention to detail and order. May you come to know that God cares about all of the little details in your life too.
“For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the LORD,” he says, “and there is no other” – Isaiah 45:18 [NLT]
We often like to add our two cents. It could be sufficient to say a particular thing but we add a little more because it’s on the tip of our tongue. We direct people to a passage of the Bible and then continue onward with our position. Some of us take whatever position we are in and go beyond the position’s description. For some of us, we serve those who are disadvantaged—we get saddened by their situation or irritated by their constant needs. Paul tells us to “keep a smile on your face” and not to add to whatever it is you are doing.
When you are preaching, it should be the Word of God, not your own agenda. When you are helping someone, you help—you don’t take over the situation and become an enabler. When you teach, you be sure to focus on teaching the Bible and not drifting off. When you are providing guidance and encouraging people, you do not cross the line and become bossy, trying to get the people to take your counsel and force your position. When you are in charge of something, you are not to use it to your advantage and get people to do as you desire. If you are in a position to help those that are in distress, be sure to pay attention so you can answer the call and not miss the boat. If you work with those who are disadvantaged, you should not be depressed by their situation. At the same time, you should never let them cause you to get irritated.
This is a lot of do’s and do not’s. It sounds like a bunch of rules. But what Paul is saying can be simplified—whatever you are called to do, do it with a smile and always point to Christ. It is not about you—it is about Him. If you always aim to point others to Christ and it is all about Him and not about you, all of these “rules” will be followed. When we add our two cents, we make it about us. It can never be about us.
“If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.” – Romans 12:6-8 [MSG]
When a person holds a young baby, they hold it differently than something less fragile. You support the head. You wrap both arms around the baby. You keep the baby close. You protect the baby. You treat the baby gently.
In Romans 14, we are told to treat other believers gently. People will not always share the same opinions. People will not always understand a passage in the same way. People might have a different opinion when it comes to what music they think should be played at church or which Sunday School curriculum to use. Some people will want to stand firm on a particular agenda while others are more focused on other things.
The bottom line is we are to “treat them gently.” We are not to “jump all over them.” We are to be gentle. When you try to push your opinion so hard, it is more about being right (pride) then it is about Jesus. When you get all caught up in rules and regulations and agendas, Jesus is lost in the shuffle. So today, as fellow believers will come in your path and possibly not agree with you on some matters, remember that each of us is on our own walk with Christ and treat everyone gently. Encourage. Equip. Embrace. Empower. Show love.
“Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” – Romans 14:1 [MSG]
Rules. Instructions. Decrees. Commands. Regulations. Directives. Orders. Laws. Statutes. Stipulations. Guidelines. Directions. Requirements. Ordinances. Mandates. What words that bring us joy! Not usually. Many people skip over instructions. Some people try to figure out a way to break the rules or twist the laws. Some people barely like to make the requirements. Ordinances really do not include me. But in Psalm 19, David speaks about God’s Commandments “bringing joy to the heart.”
David says many things in today’s verses. He uses the words: perfect, trustworthy, right, and clear. I love this description. There’s no twisting His commands. There’s no way to barely follow. There’s no chance that it doesn’t include me. We typically think of rules as a negative—as a way to restrict us from doing what we would like, but look at how David describes the instructions of the Lord. They REVIVE THE SOUL. They MAKE WISE THE SIMPLE. They BRING JOY TO THE HEART.
Finally, he says they are clear—they GIVE INSIGHT FOR LIVING and they BRING JOY TO THE HEART. We look at so many self-help books and watch so many videos on how to do things. But everything is right here for us—and the Lord’s instructions are CLEAR. Why do we make it so complicated? Today, consider what the Lord’s instructions mean to you. When you start seeing the reason the Lord gave them to us, you will start to have this JOY that David spoke about in this psalm. You will start to say, “He loves me THAT much” and “He cares for me THAT much” – and it will bring joy to your heart. As your love grows, you will start to find joy in all of the Lord’s commands. You will even enjoy reading Leviticus.
“The instructions of the LORD are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are clear, giving insight for living.” – Psalm 19:7-8 [NLT]
As a parent it can be very frustrating to constantly be repeating the same thing over and over again. There may be a rule that you have for your child’s benefit and you find yourself having to repeat it because it is not followed. It can be very nerve-wracking when you sound like a broken record with some rules, and yet you find that the repetition doesn’t always equal obedience.
Today I had to spend a great deal of time fixing my son’s computer because he failed to follow the rules that I have enforced since he learned how to use a computer. For some reason, his desire to follow the other way caused him to neglect my rule, a rule which was set for his own good and for the benefit of his computer’s health.
We do this all the time. God has left us His Word and within we find a lot of rules to follow and an example of how to live better. Yet we find ourselves constantly disobeying again and again. The Bible is very repetitive but we still don’t get it. We still fall short. Thankfully my son has a mom who is a bit of a tech nerd who can fix the consequences caused from disobeying the computer rules. Thankfully we have a Savior who has taken the punishment once and for all for each one of us despite our disobedience.
Today, thank God for His love and His sacrifice and pray for a more obedient heart—a heart devoted to Him.
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” – 2 John 1:6 [NIV]