There was a young man who was tired of living at home under the thumb of his parents. He ran off to join the Marines, because he said, “I was tired of being told what to do!” I hope you see the irony of this. In life, it seems that we move from one set of boundaries to another. While we despise being told what to do, and covet our freedom, boundaries actually allow us to reach our potential as human beings.
At a newly built school, the playground did not have any equipment or boundaries. The principal noticed the behavior of the children was a little odd. They all chose to cluster in the middle of the play yard, in small groups. He did not think anything about it, until the school installed a fence around the playground. The children immediately began to explore the whole playground, because they knew where they belonged, and where they did not.
Think about it:
In Proverbs 3, the wise writer says – “My son, do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you.”
It’s amazing to think that God puts a limit on our behavior so that we will grow and have peace!
I remember when I was young, I had an expired driver’s license AND expired plates on my car. Whenever I drove, I spent more time looking in the rearview mirror than through the windshield. I chose not to go out or to drive down side streets. I chose not to do things I wish I could have, for fear of being caught. On Valentines’ Day, I nearly missed an important date because of my failure to stay within the boundaries. I was pulled over on my way to ask for my girl’s hand in marriage. The officer gave me more grace than I deserved, and sent me on my way. My lack of judgment could have changed my wife’s and my future!
Jesus says in John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments.” He also says in verse 24, “He who does NOT love Me does NOT keep My words;”
I think people have forgotten that we need to continue to live in God’s boundaries. Jesus did not abolish the 10 commandments. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” Even in the last few paragraphs of the Bible it says, in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
When our country was founded, the Bible was used in schools to teach children how to read. Harvard, Yale, and other fine institutions were started by ministers to train men of God. Everyone applied the Law of God first in their lives. The law of the land was considered when God’s Law was not specific. I picture it in my mind as sifting dirt through a window screen (the Bible) and then catching what falls through with a fishnet (the US Constitution). Today, the Law of God in the Bible has been taken away, and we are left with only the US Constitution, which can’t catch all the dirt, just the big chunks. What is happening? We live in fear, because of people abusing our freedom. We are losing our freedoms, because we don’t know our boundaries. Ironic isn’t it?
What are God’s Ten Commandments again?
1. Love God
Jesus said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.”
2. Have no other gods or idols (or things or lifestyle that distract from serving God)
3. Don’t use God’s name foolishly (see #1)
4. One day a week is God’s (go to church)
5. Honor your mother and father
6. Do not murder (or say hateful things about people to destroy their character)
7. Do not commit adultery (or think lustful thoughts about someone)
8. Do not steal
9. Do not lie – not even a little, and especially when speaking about others
10. Do not look at things others have and compare your life to them, to the point where you’re obsessed (don’t covet)
Get the first one and the rest come easy.
Pastor Jay Merritt
I used to be the world’s worst picture hanger. I would just grab a nail and hammer, some picture wire, and start pounding. Several holes later, I would look at my work and cringe. The picture was hung crooked, or off-center. My problem was solved, as soon as I started using the right tools – primarily a tape measure.
There are many simple tools builders use to create strong, sturdy, straight work. How can a good builder cut a straight line, without a good straight edge? Can he hang a floor or a door, without a level? Where does he dig the footers, without a plan?
The wise man C.S. Lewis once pondered “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” Why did I cringe when I hung a picture wrong? I would look at the straight line on the ceiling or the corner, and see that my picture was not lined up.
Today, in our daily lives, we look at crooked things and say they are wrong. By what standard are we making that determination? What is our straight-edge? What is our level?
When I began building my life, I did not use a plan. I just lived. All my decisions were based on what I felt was right. Yes, I was selfish. I believed in ONE absolute truth, that there WAS no absolute truth. Looking back, I can see how that believing in “my truth” was also an absolute truth, which I could not believe. So was there absolute truth?
Bankers handle good money all the time, so when they just touch a counterfeit, they know. Using C.S. Lewis’s example, falsehoods cannot exist without a way to determine they are false -unless by holding them up to the standard called “truth.”
In the Bible, Proverbs 2 speaks of wisdom, discernment and discretion. When people seek these things as some seek after hidden treasure, they will find the knowledge of God. The proverb also says that it is God who gives knowledge and understanding. When have found the knowledge of God, verse 9 says “Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.”
How do we know what is right? With a standard – God.
We are the crooked line and Jesus is the straight edge we must compare ourselves to. Jesus came as Emmanuel – “God with us” – to fulfill all righteousness – so that we can have an idea of how crooked we really are. He gave us His Word – the Bible – so that we don’t have to go through life without a plan, or without direction. Am I saying that the best tool in our toolbox of life is the Bible? How else do we know about Jesus? How else do we know what is true and what is false?
What better standard is there, than the standard of perfection? In fact, did you know that God will only allow “holy” things into heaven? What is holy? Pure, perfect, un-blemished – sin free.
I once worked repairing computers at places like Motorola and Intel. Sometimes the broken computer would be in a “clean room.” Everything in that room had to be clean, dust free and hair free. I had to go through a cleansing process, put on clean coveralls, including a hat, gloves and booties, before I was allowed in. I had to learn to handle my tools with those gloves on. There were rules, and I had to abide by them. There was a reason behind it all.
There is a reason behind God’s plan for us as well. There’s a way for us to be cleansed. There is a way for us to put on “clean” and perfection. 1 Corinthians 15 tells us to “put on incorruption” and to “put on immortality” and “Death is swallowed up in victory.” Romans 13 says to “put on the armor of light” and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is only through Jesus that we can be seen as Holy, because Jesus is perfection.
Yes, I still cringe when I look at God’s definition of straight and my definition of “close enough.” I come to a quick conclusion that I can never be perfect. If God is expecting perfection from me, He’s not going to find it. Does that mean I quit trying? What it means, is that I need another way. We all do.
That Way is Jesus. Jesus himself said in John 14, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
I’ve raised up Jesus as the TRUTH. God raised him from the dead to prove that what he said was true.
I can’t find a better straight-edge on which to build my life, can you?
Pastor Jay Merritt
Pastor Jay Merritt writes about God in every day observations.