Give Me That Mountain

Playing for the Other Team

The Law and Grace. Day thirty-nine...

Did you ever compete in an event where the rules made it almost impossible to win?

What if the event organizer came up to you just before the final go‐round and said, “When you're up this time, I've picked you to be the lucky one who gets to make up his/her own rules.” Would that affect your attitude toward the rules?

competition

Well, of course it would. On this go‐round you would be competing by your own rules—giving you a great advantage.

When God's law is written in our minds and put in our hearts, His law becomes our law—giving us a great advantage.

What is His becomes ours. We, in effect, begin to play by His rules as if they are our own rules. And we value what is ours.

When we begin to agree with God, we will also begin to see the value of all His commandments. Instead of being senseless rules to crimp our style and load us down with heavy burdens, His commandments become insights into His character and nature.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28–30 NKJV)

But rebellion is a different story.

Rebellion pits us against the very character and nature of God. A man in a recent class of mine described rebellion with an excellent analogy: “Rebellion is playing for the other team.”

A rebellious child cannot understand the intentions of his or her parents. A rebellious employee cannot understand the intentions of his or her boss. And a rebellious man or woman can never understand the intentions of God.

As an example, it is God's intention for us to honor our fathers and mothers.

This is a commandment easy enough to understand for someone with great parents. But the commandment doesn't read “Honor your mother and father if they are great parents.”

Obviously, many parents are not worthy of any esteem, regard, value, or honor. But it is not for their benefit that we honor our parents—it is for our benefit. When we honor our parents we honor the authority of their position in our lives. And something healthy is developed within us, as a result.

Maybe you've been abused, or neglected in some other way by a parent—if you have a parent who is a real scumbag, you don't have to be their friend, and you certainly have every right to stay out of danger. But God wants you to honor the position they have in your life, even if they don't deserve it.

Yes, I have trouble with this also.

Why should someone honor a parent who is in prison (or should be) because of bad behavior? But, by the same token, why should we bless our enemies? Why should we extend any grace at all to someone who's trying to hurt us?

I certainly don't have all the answers, but I am convinced that when we extend grace to someone who is trying to harm us, we free ourselves from their power over us. Obviously, God knew this already, but I could have never come to this understanding in the midst of my own rebellion.

Most parents are, however, worthy of our honor.

And those with good parents don't have such a convenient excuse for not honoring them as do those with abusive parents. So the rebellion of those with good parents has to manifest in a different way.

And in this case, the Pharisees played to rebellion with a clever twist of the rules. They hatched a little scheme to seemingly satisfy God's commandment of honor—and pad their pockets at the same time.

They persuaded the people that the financial support meant for parents was actually meant to be designated as an offering to God. In other words, I would say to my parents, “I was going to help you out this month, folks. But the only money I had to help you really belonged to God, instead. So I honor you, but I can't help you with your bills.”

Jesus responded to the Pharisees' behavior:

He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’ and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:3–9 NKJV)

The Pharisees (and all their willing victims) had no insight into God's character and nature because of their rebellion against His commandments. And by rejecting His commandments, they were rejecting Him. They could not understand His intentions because of their rebellion.

Rebellion makes it impossible for God to put His law in our hearts and write it in our minds. And, as a consequence, his law will appear as a bouncer keeping us away from the desires of “our” hearts.

Have a good day,
Mike

Image credit: Edwin Gimpel

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