We do not like to be told to do things we don’t want to do, and don’t like to be told not to do things that we want to do. When you’re a kid, being told to do chores is not usually met with excitement, and being told to stop playing video games can be met with argument. Without a close look at what it mean to have a relationship with Jesus, people can write off Christianity as this religion of do’s and don’ts - you have to do a bunch of things that you don’t necessarily want to do, and can’t do things that your human nature pushes you to innately do. Is Christianity just a religion of do’s and don’ts that we have to follow simply because God rigidly says so? How should we view the commands of the Bible?
Psalm 1 gives us a great picture of a way we should view following God’s commands. Psalm 1:1-2 says:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
Blessing speaks to favor, protection, all the good things. These verses share that those who do what is right leads to blessing, but to walk in wickedness and sinful lifestyle, influenced by unrighteousness will lead to the opposite! The one who delights in the law of the Lord, who meditates on God’s Word and the commands he has set in place for us to follow, will be blessed. The next verses give us a great mental picture of what this looks like, Psalm 1:3-4:
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
The blessed person who delights in doing what is right is depicted as a fruitful tree - speaking to strength, life, stability, provision and goodness. But the person who walks in the step with the wicked is like a chaff, the outer shell (husk) that must be removed to get the valuable kernels of grain inside — easily tossed by the wind, tossed away, crushed — picture of faithless life that drifts without direction.
This picture gives us a good perspective to have on how to view keeping God’s commands. How should we view the commands of the Bible? Know that obeying God is for your benefit. It leads to blessing, it leads to strength, life, provision, etc. God doesn’t have commands in place for the sake of given us a to-do/to-don’t list. Beyond the fact that it is honoring, worshipful, and respectful for us to obey our Heavenly Father (please read: that should be a driving motivator to obey!), following God’s commands is legitimately beneficial to your life!
Think through this example with me: what does the Bible say about words? We should use them to build each other up, speak in love, speak in truth, do not slander, don’t lie, don’t gossip, etc. (Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 3:8, 4:6, 1 Thess. 5:11, to name a few). These are some commands on how we should/shouldn’t use words. Now in your life, if you regularly speak in love, truth, and encourage people up - how would that impact your relationships? That would result in good things - people will look to you as a loving, kind person and will result in you even receiving a lot of love and positive encouraging words back. But if you were constantly lying, gossiping about other people, slandering others — how would that impact your life and relationships? People will view you negatively, people will talk bad about you, gossip about you, etc… See how following these commands directly result in a better life for you!
The commands God has in place are for your benefit, not just a cold rule book of things we have to do and don’t do. There are commands that are difficult to do, and we’ll struggle with them because we’re human… But the better we honor and respect God by keeping His commands, the greater our life will be.