Why do we have rules? Well, society would say it is so we can have order...but I'm thinking more along the lines of the kind of rules parents give...that our Heavenly Father gives.
Rules like "Do not feed the animals." Why do we have that rule - well, obviously to protect us, (and the animals.) If we feed those animals we put ourselves into danger! At first, it seems harmless. You feed them and nothing bad happens. They are cute. We have an adventure. What could be so wrong with that? But we all know it doesn't always end there. We let down our guard. We walk into danger. We think we are okay, but sooner or later someone gets hurt. (Not to mention the damage it does to the animals!)
Life is filled with rules like this....and so is the Bible.
Many people chafe at the idea of following the rules God gives us thinking it removes their freedom of choice, and they don't see the bigger picture of why that rule is there in the first place. It is there because of His love for us.
Why did I have rules about where my children could go? Why didn't I simply allow them to make their own decisions based on what they "felt"? Because I love them. I didn't just turn a blind eye when they wandered toward the road outside our home. I not only gave rules about how close they could get to that road, but I also took "correction measures" should they decide to ignore that rule. At times it only took a word...other times it took more memorable correction. All because of our love for them.
At times, as my children have gotten older, they have made decisions that "broke the rules." I am thankful that God has protected them from great harm with those decisions...but they suffer the consequences of those decisions all the same. Not from me - from the choice itself! Sometimes they "get it" and finally understand WHY we said no to things. Sometimes they don't....but they are growing and maturing and slowly beginning to understand.
We don't have rules simply to keep order or to keep us from having fun. We have rules because we are loved. May you feel that love today...and please don't "feed the animals."
Hebrews 12: 4-11
4-11In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline,
but don't be crushed by it either.
It's the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
Another version of verse 11:
New International Version (NIV)
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.