So, did your parents ever tell you to do something you didn’t want to do, using the rationale, “This is for your own good”? Yeah, mine did, too. We had to go apologize when the rest of our friends did not. We had to work while they got to play. We got the spankings… all for our own good.
I am confessing publicly today that my parents were right. It was (and is) for my own good. Discipline is good. Order is good. Having one in authority over us who will tell us what to do is good, even though we will often either not accept such authority, or we will act is thought we do not want it. Still, it is for our own good.
The Lord, through Moses, teaches this to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 10:13, telling them to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which the Lord has commanded them for their own good. I can imagine that some of the people grumbled inwardly at having to obey. After all, the other nations got to have temple prostitutes and many wives. Why obey the rules of God?
Well, we could sit around and slander the silliness of ancient Israel, but it would only serve to act as a salve over the wounds our own open rebellion against God. How many times have we felt burdened because we have had to withdraw from the gossip sessions? We have had to depart from the parties? We don’t get to watch the same movies. We don’t drink the same drinks or smoke the same smokes. Don’t, don’t, don’t. Isn’t it true that we have murmured against our parents—and even against God—because it seems that the message of faith is Don’t?
We aren’t so different from Israel. We, too, forget that the commandments come in the form of a deep and loving concern for our souls. DO the commandments for your own good. When we grumble about what we don’t get to do, we demonstrate that we have forgotten the goodness of God. We think of commands as burdens, oppressive templates imposed on us from above which intend to stifle our freedoms. But commands are not meant to stifle us. They are meant to free us to the full flourishing of the children of God.
Obey the commands of God. They are not burdensome. They are designed to set you free in a way unlike anything else under the sun (John 8:31-32). The commands will reveal to you greater truth and greater freedom. The commands of God will demonstrate His great goodness and perfect love. Obey the commands of God for your own good.
Ouch! Great word, Dr. Greg. I certainly needed that reminder.