July 23, 2016

Psalm 119:45 I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.

This verse makes no sense to the natural mind. The natural mind does not connect going about in freedom/broadly/unrestrained with keeping, much less seeking out, God’s rules. We see that in the world around us all the time, with the attitude that “Rules are made to be broken.” Try doing that with the law of gravity! Humanly speaking there are indeed trivial rules and even immoral rules, but God’s rules are always for our good, liberating rather than confining, however things might feel in the short run. It’s rather like teaching children not to run out into traffic. To the child, who has no concept of what it would be like to be hit by a car, the parent might seem mean and arbitrary, when the opposite is true. It is interesting, as well as sad, that there are so many protests against displaying the Ten Commandments these days, particularly in a nominally Christian country like America. The devil tells us such rules are restrictive, when actually they protect us from consequences far worse than we can imagine at the point we are faced with temptation. For example, I’ve done a lot of marriage counseling, and I’ve never run into a case where adultery didn’t bring far more heartache and trouble than working on the marriage to make it good would have done. Both the Bible and experience tell us that human beings are naturally rebellious, but it is when we learn to submit ourselves to our Heavenly Father who loves us that we find our greatest fulfillment and joy. When we’re talking about Him, it is certainly true that Father knows best!

I have always had an ambivalent relationship with rules, because I encounter so many human rules that have no good basis. Working in the Japanese school system, I feel that there are a lot of rules that serve only to teach students to ignore or subvert rules. At the same time, I have learned the hard way that the majority of rules have a legitimate purpose. I feel it’s never wrong to question the purpose of rules, but ignoring rules when their purpose isn’t understood can be dangerous indeed. I need to remember what Paul said about human authority being ordained by God (Romans 13:1-2) and stay respectful at all times. That can be very exasperating at times! I need to accept such times as training in submission to God, rather than to the human functionary who’s getting under my skin, and give Him thanks and praise. Right now this church is considering building a small senior care facility. That’s going to mean jumping through all sorts of hoops with various government agencies. I’m going to need to seek out God’s rules so that I will be able to go about it unrestrained, as this verse says.

Father, thank You for all that You teach us in so many ways. Help me recognize, accept, and apply each lesson as You intend, not just for my own growth and betterment but so that I will be more responsive and useful to You in accomplishing Your will on Your schedule, for the blessing of many and 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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