Devotional - The Constraints of Love
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith."
- 1 John 5:2-4
Several years ago, my wife and I installed a modest fire pit in our backyard. An iron bowl, sitting atop a pad of stones and surrounded by even more rocks served as the perfect setting for idyllic fires on cool autumn nights. We enjoyed sitting around the controlled blaze, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, talking, and laughing.
Due to some renovations in our home at the time, we always had an ample supply of wood and cardboard to burn. My sons, being adventurous boys, and my wife, being an awesome mom, allied to keep the fires stoked. However, one particular evening, their feeding and stoking of the fire resulted in a blaze of scary proportions. Shooting flames 15’ in the air, our cozy little fire soon seemed to illuminate the neighborhood!
Thankfully, some quick thinking and the garden hose extinguished the sprawling flames, but not before setting us and our neighbors on edge a bit. Inside the constraints of the pit, our fire was a beautiful and affirming thing. Outside of those protective constraints, our fire became a threatening and unhealthy force.
Cynics often deride the God of Scripture as a killjoy and his commandments as backward and burdensome. Christian obedience is portrayed as dull and boring at best, and destructive to a life of joy and peace at worst. Nothing could be further from the truth.
God's commandments are the constraints and pathways that equip us for a truly abundant and increasingly fruitful life. Within them, we are free to flourish. Outside of them, we're exposed to the dangers from which our loving Father seeks to protect us. This is true of our speech, our sexuality, our stewardship of resources - everything.
No, we don't cease to be God's children by moving outside of God's loving and protective constraints. However, we sure can compromise our enjoyment of that status considerably, and even expose ourselves to great harm, by moving outside the loving and protective constraints of his commands.
Child of God: Your obedience to God's law does not make you God's daughter or son. Your salvation rests on God's grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. However, your fuller experience and enjoyment of that status grow as you learn to trust God more and more in loving obedience. As you grow to trust and obey your Father, you grow to see that his commands aren't backward, burdensome, or boring. They're meant to protect and prosper you, to help you live all of life to the fullest as God's beloved child.
You're loved. Don't forget it.