These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. (NIV)
God’s commands may look like a straitjacket to some. Designed to squeeze the life out of us, designed to keep us on some sombre straight and narrow, designed to stop us celebrating the many good things of life. This is one of the more common and powerful strategies of the evil one. And as with all such strategies, they are lies.
Here we read that obeying the commands of God brings the best sort of life. Obedience is not to be seen as gritting our teeth with grim determination as we plod tediously towards heaven. It is life enhancing. God gives us his commands in order that life may be enriched. After all, as our Maker he knows what is best for us.
His commands are not a straitjacket. But they do certainly impose limits on our conduct. They remind us we are not free simply to do as we please independently of God. In this way, the commands are more like a fence around a dangerous cliff. The fence does prevent us acting out our desire to peer over the edge. But in doing so it is actually preserving us from danger, helping us not to destroy ourselves.
Within those love set boundaries we are able to enjoy life to the full. Not free to do as we please, but free to do what pleases God.
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