You may have noticed that doing what’s good for you isn’t always pleasant or easy.
Case in point. My family doctor wants me to eat a diet that’s low in fat to bring my cholesterol numbers down to where they need to be. In my head, I want that, too. But that’s not how I always choose to eat.
Sometimes the doughnut or the cookies ‘n’ cream milkshake or the baguette slathered in butter wins the day, because that’s what I want in the moment. Eating in a healthy way consistently isn’t always easy for me. But let’s move beyond food choices and my battle with choosing apple slices over chocolate chip cookies.
It’s also like visiting the dentist. During my appointment, it hurts to have the hygienist scraping my teeth. But I know that doing that on a regular basis is what will keep my mouth healthy.
Now let’s take something like gossip. It can feel good to share with a friend the lowdown we just heard about a situation. It makes us look “in the know” and feel important. But if what we’re passing on isn’t edifying – either for the person we’re sharing about or for the person we’re talking to – then it doesn’t need to be said. Reminds me of the old adage, “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?”
And while I know it’s good for me not to gossip, it’s not always easy to control my tongue.
Yet God gives us commands and principles in the Bible that we’re to follow. And according to this passage in Deuteronomy, His commands are for our good.
“And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?“ ~Deuteronomy 10:12-13
God doesn’t give us commands or “rules” because He wants to keep us from having any fun in life. He gives them to us because He knows what’s good for us. He knows that as we live according to His Word, we will gain what truly satisfies our souls and gives us lasting joy.
For example, God commands us to tithe or give money to our local church. Does God need our money? No. But He knows that as we give, we become generous. Generous people reflect Christ in a way that draws others to Him.
How about one of the original ten commandments, from Exodus 20 – don’t covet? God knows that if we get busy looking around at what others have, we’re going to become discontent and bitter. Do you know anyone like that, always complaining because someone else has better “stuff” than they do? Is that person fun to be around?
On the other hand, God commands us to be thankful. Why? Because then our attitude will be one of gratefulness for what we have. We’ll be content with God’s provision.
Every command of God’s is for our ultimate good, even those that we find hard to obey. Love and pray for your enemies, do all things without complaining, be anxious for nothing – yes, those, too.
And while we try to wrap our heads around this for ourselves, I think it’s also good to talk it through with our children.
Are they going to see that us saying “no” to something they want to do is for their good? Likely not in the moment. Nor are they going to necessarily be excited when we set certain restrictions on their tv-watching or what music they’re allowed to listen to.
But as they grow to know our hearts and sense our love for them, hopefully they’ll come to understand. And what a responsibility we have to seek God’s wisdom as we make those decisions in our homes.
So when you come across a command in the Bible that you think is going to be difficult to follow, remember that God’s given that command because it’s going to produce a good thing in your life. In the end, He’s seeking to conform us into His image. And that’s definitely a good outcome!