Here’s a principle for you . . . rules are decisions made in advance. I mean think about it, when the sign says “No Parking,” someone made a decision for me in advance of my arrival. They looked out for my safety, someone else’s green grass, the usual traffic pattern, whatever. They said to me (via the sign) “Regi, you’re not going to park here.”
Generally, I like to make my own decisions. Rules bother me. Rules are inconvenient. Rules limit my freedom. The hardest rules are usually made by someone else without my participation. Rules aren’t dynamic . . . they don’t have context. “No Parking” is okay on a sunny day, but in a rainstorm? Seriously? And why should I hit my turn signal to change lanes when there’s nobody close by? C’mon man! My wife says I think the rules are for everyone else. I can prove that’s not true. Not once have I violated the rule of not going past this door.
But here’s the thing about rules. They’re intended to protect. God gave us the ultimate rules (e.g., commandments) . . . things like loving Him, honoring His name and His day and not making anything else more important than Him. He made those rules to protect us from ourselves. And then right out of the shoot, the first generation of humans decided they wanted to make their own rules. Look what that got them (and us) . . . sin, death, pain in childbirth (not for us guys thankfully) and work that’s really hard. The rest of His rules were to protect us from each other. They’re relationship rules about being faithful to our wives, respecting our parents, not envying our neighbors, not killing or stealing, etc.
God gave us rules for our protection because He loves us! Which leads us to a radical question . . .
What personal rules should we make to protect ourselves?
Here’s one of mine: tell the truth about everything, no matter how ugly or embarrassing. Every sin is accompanied by a lie, either before, during or after the sin. So if I force myself to speak the truth, no matter how small or insignificant the issue, I’m protecting myself from sin.
Here’s another one . . . don’t loan people money. If you’re their friend or family and they have a valid need, give rather than lend. This rule protects me from the mental anguish of being a ‘creditor,’ and them from all the baggage and shame that comes with being a borrower, not to mention the hassle of getting repaid.
By the way, don’t get too carried away with this ‘making rules’ thing. That’s how the Pharisees screwed up. They made rules to keep people from breaking rules and ended up with a morass of 613 rules nobody could follow.
God gave us rules because He loves us. So if we love ourselves the way God does, shouldn’t we do what He did? Shouldn’t we make some personal rules to protect ourselves from sin, temptation and pain?
Scripture: “. . . and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)
Mentor Tip: Be aware of the double standard guys have when it comes to rules. Help them see the value of creating some guardrails for their lives.