Some would say rules are made to be broken. Others would say that rules are rigid and can never be adjusted.
Many rules I find are a response to something that happened. Several kids died one night after prom and my High School eliminated proms for a several years. A company’s generosity was taken for granted so all pro bono work was eliminated. A restaurant was losing money from employee discounts and removed that benefit. A church had a vote go the “wrong” way and removed all voting privileges to church members under 18. In nearly all instances we find rules to be a reaction too an event. Those in leadership react to an event that was out of their control or grip of power and seize the opportunity to make a rule or law that reflects their feelings.
Often we behave in the same manner. My Dad would never allow me to go to a school dance. He had his reasons and none of them I agreed with as a teenager. What did I do? The summer I spent in away from them I attended every dance and club I could. I later called and told him what a grand time I was having too! I was being disciplined one time for a legitimate reason but re-arranged my work schedule to eliminate the rigors of discipline and make money at the same time.
It does not matter which side of the rule we find ourselves, we try to get around it or reword it or control the moment. This verse is striking. Our culture likes to bend and break the rules. Our culture likes to rage against the machine. Many do not believe in rules and could never praise the legislators that make the rules. When it comes to God’s rules we tend to hear from critics that they are limiting and binding. How could anyone ever enjoy life under such rigid rules?
Yet, it seems, that someone far closer to the time than we are felt that he could be excited about learning the rules and then living within their construct. How do we manage our bent toward rebellion when it comes to God’s rules for life?
1. Take temptation seriously (Bible). The devil is always active in trying to get us to bend or break God’s rules. He is subtle. He is patient. He is meticulous. He will come to you slowly and in small chunks. We blow off so many actions as being benign when they are stacking up against you and will soon fall. The psalmist understood what it meant, and felt like, to break God’s rules. He knew the pain, loneliness, and guilt associated. He never wanted to feel that again. He took them seriously from that point.
2. Delight in God’s Word (Bible). The writer praised God as he learned the rules. He understood the value of God’s commands. Essentially he skipped along in his heart as he learned the rules and applied them to his life. God, who is holy, has developed a righteous construct in which we are to live. Because God is holy and righteous we can be assured that he has our best interests on mind.
3. Realize the power of 3 (Bible). There is big difference in addition and multiplication. One, as it has been sung, is the loneliest number. Two is better because there is help. However, 3 is greater. If you took three ropes that each could handle 50 lbs and braided them together they could pull far more than 150lbs. There is strength and support in a group of people that cannot be found alone. We must begin to do life together in our churches. The support and help needed to walk uprightly is found in a group of trusted friends. I was told by Ed Newton that your 3-5 closest friends (inner circle) must be developing followers of Christ. Otherwise you will fall prey to the tricks of the Devil.
Breaking free is bout loosening the chains of pain, shame, and loneliness by embracing the righteous rules God has put into place to increase your joy!