Most of us at times become overwhelmed with rules: governments make rules; employers make rules; unions make rules; schools make rules; parents make rules.
It seems that we have so many rules that most of us are inundated with rules.
Rules, however, play an important part in life and are intended to create more positives than negatives.
I have been watching the NHL with interest. The league have rules. The purpose of those rules is to protect the players and create as much freedom as possible.
For instance, high sticking, spearing, fighting and holding are prohibited and penalized. They detract from the game.
By adding these rules, the league produces more freedoms than restrictions and, thus, enhance the game.
Rules make the game run more smoothly and fairly. They are not meant to take away the fun of the game, they are there to make the game a lot more fun.
The positive (liberation) outweighs the negative (restrictions).
We often think that the commandments in the Bible are designed to take the fun out of life. But that is wrong. The opposite is true. They are really intended to protect us from injuring each other, and they make life a lot more pleasant.
For instance, the command “You shall not murder” is designed to protect a person’s life. Because there is murder, many of us at times consciously or unconsciously fear for our lives. If people obeyed this command, we would not have the tragic stories of murderer Col. Russell Williams. We would be able to walk out at night into any city without fear of being killed.
Another commandment encourages us not to commit adultery. This law is intended to protect the purity and sanctity of the marriage. When this law is broken, it can be very costly. It can destroy a marriage, damage the children, impact the extended family and friends, compromise one’s reputation, threaten the health of the affected individuals and cost a great deal of money.
The commandment “you shall not steal” gives protection to people’s possessions. It makes private ownership possible. If it were followed, it would save us an incredible amount of money. Imagine if no one would steal. We would not have to lock our houses in order to protect our possessions. We could drive our cars to the bank, deposit our money and leave the keys in the car and the windows open while doing business without fear of it disappearing. For that matter, we would not even need keys or a security system or a bank to protect our possessions.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour” is intended to protect your neighbour’s reputation. You may say “I have never murdered nor ever handled a lethal weapon.” Well, you have a lethal weapon in your mouth. It’s called the tongue. And you can use it to destroy your neighbour’s reputation.
God never puts restrictions on a person’s behaviour for the sake of a power trip or just to make him suffer.
The kind of God scripture reveals is one who is compassionate and full of mercy. Yes, God is holy, righteous and just, and he demands accountability. But he is also kind and caring. He wants the very best for us.
The Psalmist understood this. He wrote, “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Ps. 84:11).
He also encouraged us to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).
It is true that when we put ourselves within the limitations God has set, we discover freedom.
The Ten Commandments initially appear to inhibit, but they produce the opposite effect in our lives – liberation.
Harry Loewen is Pastor of East Ridge Community Fellowship.