I believe that it is a basic tenet that each and everyone of us are selfish. We like to have control. When I was a child frequently I would say (either out loud, or in my head), “I can’t wait to grow up, then no one can tell me what to do!” We want to do what we want to do, how we want to do it, and whenever we want to do it. Oh how naive I was to think that when I reached adulthood, that I would be in total control of my life – that I could and would call “all of the shots.”
With age comes wisdom, or does it? The longer I live, the more I learn, so in that sense wisdom does come with age. But, when I know that there are certain things that are best for me to do, or certain behaviors that are better for me to exhibit, and don’t do them, then I am not acting very wise at all – that’s when I am the most selfish.
Frequently when we don’t exhibit self-control and go off doing whatever strikes our fancy at the time, we end up in trouble, or at least in tight situations. That’s where rules for the Christian life can be very helpful for us, but perhaps instead we could view them as guidelines (when I think of the word rules, my mind goes to a particular quote from the not too profound, but always entertaining movie The Pirates of the Carribean – “hang the rules. They’re more like guidelines anyway.”) In my faith walk, I like guidelines, but I don’t like rules. Rules are rigid, guidelines are not. Rules must be adhered to, guidelines serve to help us focus. Rules bind, guidelines assist us in choosing a course of action.
We are imperfect, we cannot come to our Holy and perfect God with any acts that make us righteous. We can look at what Jesus commands us to do as guidelines, instead of rules. God does not require us to follow rules and regulations, rather he gives us guidelines to help us display His grace to the lost world. And those guidelines give us a solid foundation in our lives to make us rock solid, keep us out of trouble, and ready to receive the many blessings that God bestows to his faithful. No we don’t have to obey, God will still love us. But, the longer I walk with God, the more I understand that following God’s guidelines produces the best fruit in my life, and that makes we want to follow those commands.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49, ESV)