1. Remember God’s Commands
“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” – Proverbs 3:1-2 (ESV)
Too many people see God’s Law as a burden. It’s a stumbling block to them because it means that Jesus expects them to control themselves, which is exactly why America is in the place it is today, but when we see God’s Law (i.e. commandments) as a burden we are not focusing on the heart of the Law Giver. Let’s look at a few big ones from the ten commandments:
- Keep the Sabbath Holy – We do this because on the seventh day, after creation, God rested from His work. Think about that for a second. Did God need to rest? No, He set the example of the command that He would later give to us. In the US we have gotten used to having a two-day weekend but that is not how it was for centuries of human society. Most other civilizations would grant workers one day off of their work, and the same was the case in America for much of our early history. Yet because we have gotten used to our two-day weekends, the Sabbath has become a burden because it takes from one of our most valuable resources: time. But when you look at the Sabbath as a gift from God it is wonderful! As a people we need at least one day off to rest our bodies and our minds, just ask someone who’s wrapping up their tenth day in a row without a day off.
- Do not covet – In other words, do not be jealous of what other people have. A covetous person goes down one of two roads: anger that others have things they don’t or despair that they cannot have what they desire.
- Do not steal – Have you ever been robbed? Has anyone ever stolen your bike, or broken into your car? You feel violated. It makes you angry. It makes you feel considerably less secure.
- Do not murder – I don’t think there’s much to say on this one… it’s pretty obvious.
- Do not lie – You want people to trust you right? So don’t lie to them. Lying breaks the trust between people but more than that, it brings up people’s defenses which makes it exponentially more difficult to regain their trust.
- Honor your parents – For some this can be difficult, but notice that it does not necessarily say “respect” your parents… because to be honest some parents are not respectable! There is a difference between respect and honor (and by all means we should always strive to respect our parents as well).
These are all summarized by Jesus as love your neighbor (fellow humans) as yourself. Would you want someone to lie to you? Would you want anyone to steal from you? Would you want someone to covet your spouse/partner or your property? Would you want someone to murder you? Obviously not. Would you want your children or future children to dishonor and/or disrespect you? If you answered no to these (which you should have or else you’re probably just being contrary…) than don’t do them to others. These, and the rest of God’s Law, are what will serve you well and prolong your life and your joy.
2. Trust in God, Not Yourself
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5
This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture and it is contrary the human ideals of self-esteem, self-assurance, and self-actualization. It’s an exhortation that when adhered to keeps us from arrogance and pride. We are loved and God made us in His image and likeness which means that we are smart and creative. We can figure things out that no other animal on the earth can or ever will figure out, which is why apes use sticks to catch insects and people have gone to the moon and can contemplate quantum mechanics.
That said, we are still finite beings with flaws. We fail and can only see a limited perspective, but God is all knowing and all powerful. He is never taken back in surprise, and He is big enough to handle anything we can bring to His feet.