Rules to Free Us

“Sin is the failure to live freedom excellently.” George Weigel

When we were children, we told ourselves that, when we grew up, we would do what we want. We would stay up late, drive a car, and watch whatever we want on television.

But then we grew up and wished we could go to bed earlier. We wondered how we’d pay for car repairs. And we wanted to find some time to watch TV. Or when we did have the time, we wished there’d be something on worth watching.

We didn’t realize as children that our extra sleep helped us function and learn. Our parents chauffeured us around while bearing the burdens of car ownership and maintenance. And we enjoyed an innocence about how the world worked–or failed to work well.

We still don’t realize–and often don’t like to admit–rules are good for us.

The Ten Commandments are not just a list of what not to do–the “Thou shalt not’s”–not idolizing, misusing God’s name, stealing, lying, murdering, coveting, and adultering–or something like that.

They also list what to do. The “Thou shalt’s”–honor God, the Sabbath, our parents.

Those three seem less obvious to us. They don’t seem to carry the weight of immediate consequence, at least when we’re older. But they are perhaps even more important than the others. They keep us from the others. The “Thou shalt’s” help us avoid the “Thou shalt not’s.”

Yet every day, we are free to choose. In fact, our ability to choose our actions, according to George Weigel “is what distinguishes the human person from the rest of the natural world[;] freedom is the great organizing principle of a life lived in a truly human way.”

Life is hard. But when we live our freedom excellently we are most free.

Someone pointed out to me that God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites after they left the bondage of Egypt.

I had never thought of that before. I had never pondered why God didn’t give a set of rules written in stone to Adam and Eve upon their departure from the Garden. Or to Noah 120 years before the flood. Or to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob.

God waited until His own people would be setting up their own society–a newfound society of free people coming out of bondage. He gave them guideposts, like road signs. Go this way. Don’t go that way. Avoid the bondage of sin.

They aren’t rules to limit us. They’re rules to free us.

“Had your law not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Psalm 119:92.

It’s something every generation must learn on its own. I confess that I learned many life lessons the hard way. When we learn that way, we come to see the rules as protective.
God wrote those rules in stone. They serve or are disregarded by everyone throughout history.

As children, we resented our parents’ rules while they formed a hedge of protection around us.

The wise delight in the rules and in the One who gave them to us as a gift.

Only then are we truly free.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

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12 Replies to “Rules to Free Us”

  1. So true. This reminds me of the quote from Abraham Lincoln:
    “Freedom is not the right to do what we want, but what we ought.”

    1. If we could teach that in the schools, it would be a start toward healing the nation. We need God and that statement is foundational to Christianity. Thanks, Ava. God bless!

  2. Good points, Nancy. The Ten Commandments are, in reality, ten principles for freedom and happiness, which most of the world doesn’t recognize as they fight to do what they want, which will eventually lead to their downfall.

    1. It’s ironic that most cultures and societies embrace most of the commandments. Any society that allows ownership of property protects the owners from theft. We have a built-in sense of fairness–natural law. God just spelled it out in stone–along with the Thou shalts to clarify a sense of law for people who’d lived under oppression for generations. You are correct that more and more, the noisiest among us clamor for chaos. Those are the ones pursuing the eventual downfall of us all. Thanks and God bless!

  3. Love this SO MUCH: “When we live our freedom excellently we are most free.” I agree completely. Thank you!

  4. Excellent post, Nancy. I never thought about the ten commandments coming after the Israelites bondage either. How revolutionary! And this is a powerful thought, “Life is hard. But when we live our freedom excellently we are most free.”

  5. Excellent! How easy it is to chafe at the rules, not pausing to think of the long-term ramifications that make these rules necessary. The Ten Commandments was an excellent illustration. The people chafed and pushed against those rules, for they had just left Egypt with its many sins and enticing choices. It took the wilderness for them to fully appreciate the need for those rules.

    1. Thank you, Melinda. As I said, I’d never considered the timing of the commandments before. God put natural law within us, but coming out of bondage, the people needed the law written in stone. The wilderness is always a teaching time. God bless!

  6. Great post Nancy. It is through rules that we learn and grow. God knew what He was doing when He gave us the Ten Commandments

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