Sunday, August 5, 2018

"Don't do this ... Don't do that !"

Mother Scolding Child Image
The above image is copied  from a very old vintage catalog. Even in black and white the body language speaks loud and clear  !  

 The mother struck a match to light the candles on her festive dining room table.
She looked up to see the gleam in her 5 year old son whose wide-eyed attention was focused on what she was doing.  Replacing the match box in the cabinet drawer, she looked up to note the intensity of his gaze  riveted on the drawer as she pushed it closed. Knowing her son, she easily discerned his intent .
Wanting him to focus on the 'right' things, she said , "Bobby, there is a lovely set of trains in your toy box. Play with them, or, Call your little friend next door and ask him to play in the pool with you."

As experienced parents, we shake our head at her lack of 'mother-wisdom'.    Bobby heard not a word about the 'good commandments'  his mother gave him - his mind and will was focused on those matches and the fun he could have playing with them.
We easily guess the end of that story !

I often hear people complain about God's commandments.  "Why are they all so negative ?  'Don't do this, don't do that'."
God, being a wise parent who fully understands His children, knew that the human race was more inclined toward disobedience than toward obedience.  So He  gave His commandments from the perspective of our fleshly weakness.
We do wrong before we do right;
We sin before we seek righteousness;
We indulge the fleshly desires before we exercise ourselves in godliness.
We are selfishly inclined before we learn to consider others before ourselves.

How easily God could have thought - and rightly so - that man was sinful in all his ways, and whatever bed man made for himself he could just lie in it. 
No, we do not serve that kind of God.
God loved / loves every person  and desires the best for him.  So while He desires that we do right, He understands that first we will tempted to do  the 'wrong', so God gave us a list of 'wrongs' to avoid.
We try to hide our sin from others, and oft from God Himself, but if you read through His Ten Commandments, you will see that God knows exactly where our heart inclinations lie. He knows  the temptations that we so easily give in to. He understands the weakness of our flesh.

It is tempting to read through the commandments and soothe our consciences by judging ourselves not guilty -- especially of the 'do not murder' one.   But Jesus puts His finger on that one and points out that every murder is birthed in feelings of hatred.  And if we hate, we have already murdered in our heart. 
I recently gently chided a friend when she expressed her hatred for someone in her life.  She stopped for a moment, considering my admonition, and then replied, "Okay, I don't hate them, I just can't stand them."    We may smile - but wait -- are any of us really innocent?  Do we not all at some point or another just 'relabel' our emotions / feelings , even actions, and then declare ourselves innocent of disobeying God's commandment?

I find it so comforting - so freeing -  that I don't have to be afraid that God will find our what I am really like.  He already knows and loves me anyway.  That sets me free to rush into His presence where I will find the grace to grow more like Him.  Being in His presence turns me away from the sin 'that so easily besets us' and I desire much rather to  pursue goodness and righteousness.

 In Jesus' words ... "There is no other commandment greater than these ... Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength .....  and love your neighbor as yourself." Mark12:30,31
Love covers and fulfills every commandment God gave ...  the do's and the don'ts.
 If  we whole-heartedly love God and love each other  ... then there will be no cause for stumbling in us. (I John 2:10)