Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:1-21
How do you like rules? If you’re like most people, you probably love rules―for other people, anyway! Rules keep people from stealing our stuff, running into us when we go through intersections, and harming those we love.
But what about rules for ourselves? Many times, we balk at rules. They make us feel restricted and constrained. But the rules God has set into place are the best kind of rules. They’re helpful for us and for others. Instead of constricting us, they set us free to live the best life possible.
Without rules, I would be like a train without a track, or a kite without a string. If I were a train, I would think that the track was constraining me from going where I wanted to go. But in reality, the track would be the very thing that enabled me to go at all―and to go far and fast! If I were a kite, I would think that the string would be holding me back. But in reality, the tension of the string is the very thing that would help me to go higher and stay up longer than if I were to cut myself loose from it!
Exodus chapter 20 lists the most helpful and enduring set of rules ever given to anyone: The Ten Commandments. Thousands of years later, they still form the basis for many legal systems throughout the world.
“And God spoke all these words:
‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.’
‘You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.’
‘You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.’
‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.’
‘Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.’
‘You shall not murder.’
‘You shall not commit adultery.’
‘You shall not steal.’
‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.’
‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor’ ” (Exodus 20:1-17).
Rather than restricting us, these rules free us to live the abundant life God created us to live.
Now step back a minute and look at these rules from God’s perspective. Why did He give these rules to Moses at this particular point in the journey out of Egypt? Based on Moses’ recent conversation with Jethro, I believe it was God’s way to teach everyone His decrees and laws, and to show them the way to live, as Jethro suggested in Exodus 18:20. At this critical point, God gave Moses a detailed set of rules to pass on to others so they could help him lead.
If you’re wondering how to lead others better, or if you’re wondering how you can live a more abundant life yourself, consider putting a good set of rules into place. A good set of rules, like a train track and a kite string, can often help us go farther and faster, and to fly longer and higher than ever before!
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.