God’s Commands: Burdensome or Beautiful?

I love music, but sometimes I do weird stuff with it. Recently, I found myself cycling through iTunes listening to samples of songs, but I wouldn’t commit to a purchase. I settled with a few samples, missing out on the full experience of a great album.

That’s what I do with God a lot too. I’ll listen to the parts of him that I like, and settle for small portions of what he asks, but don’t fully commit to ALL of him.

I remember hearing in college 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” Not burdensome? How could John say that with good conscience?

This sounded crazy to me because cheating seemed to make school so much easier. Lying was extremely convenient at times. Gossip fueled my ego. Sexual temptation was so alluring. Envy and jealousy were powerful motivators. My grip on Sin was very tight- it felt good, it was exciting, and appeared to be very helpful. How could it not be burdensome to give it all up?

Now that I’m older, have sinned a lot more, been forgiven a lot more, seen a lot of other friends sin a lot, witnessed spouses cheat and divorce, and even a few take their own life it makes more sense.

I have never met a 50-year-old say, “I love being addicted to pornography.” “I’m so glad I’ve learned to lie so easily to my family.” “Living a double life has really paid off.” “Even though my kids hate me, this whole making up my own legalistic rules thing really works.” Nobody says those things.

But people do say things like, “I wish I could go back and end this addiction before it started.” “I would love to shake my former self and warn him of the dangers of lying and cheating.” “I wish I could spend more quality time with my kids.”

Read Psalm 119 (give yourself some time, it’s very long), and see what all these guys say about God’s commands.

Verse 20 says, “My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.” Can you imagine that? Longing for rules? Why would someone ever want to long for a rule?

People don’t long for rules, people long for things that are beautiful. Consider this… If I slaved over trying to plant a fruit tree in my yard and it dies over and over again, then you give me specific instructions on how to plant a fruit tree that will bear ripe fruit and the instructions work, I will be extremely thankful and say, “These instructions are awesome! They’re beautiful, I absolutely love these rules!”

What 1 John 5:3 is telling us is that when we demonstrate our love for God by obeying his commandments, the fruit of that obedience will not cause us to say, “I can’t believe I obeyed God, what a mistake!” Instead, as Psalm 119:72 states, “The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”

His rules produce something so beautiful inside of us that nothing else in this world can. Not even all the gold and silver in the world.

-Mark Zeiler



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