Why Can’t I Make My Own Rules?

Editor’s Note: It’s Sit & Listen Saturday at Devotionals Daily. Enjoy reading as well as listening to this devotion from the brand new book Grown-Up Faith by Kevin Myers. Listen on the blog below or on your Alexa device by enabling the skill and then prompting, “Alexa, ask devotionals to read today’s devotion.”

Trust Me on This

My firstborn son, Joshua, is now grown up, married, and a father. Like me, Josh loves anything with two wheels — with or without an engine. Whether it’s a trick bike or a mountain bike or a dirt bike or a cruiser, he’s had them all and loves them all. I taught him how to ride a motorcycle, and over the years we’ve spent a lot of time riding trails on dirt bikes in the backwoods and mountains of the southeastern United States. I love that he shares my passion for riding.

Josh’s first two-wheeled experience was with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bicycle when he was four. He loved that bike. I wanted to encourage him to ride and have fun, but I also wanted him to be safe because riding can be dangerous. When you ride motorcycles, things can go terribly wrong in an instant. The very thing that can give you joy — riding fast in the wind — can take your health or your life if you’re too casual about it.

When you’re four years old, the greatest danger when riding comes from cars. So I wanted to teach Josh how to be safe. One day I walked him down to the corner with his bike, and he and I sat down on the curb together. From street level, we watched the cars go by. When one passed, I asked him, “Josh, what would happen if a four-year-old boy got hit by a car in the street? What would all that steel and weight do with all that speed?”

“It would be really bad, Daddy!” he said.

“Do you want to get hit by a car?” I asked. “No, Daddy.” He said it with emphasis. “And I don’t want you to either,” I explained, “because, Josh, I love you more than you will ever know. And I bought you this bike for all the fun it gives you. But it will be the thing that hurts you badly if you ride in this road. So we need to make a rule: Josh does not ride in the road! Do you understand?”

Josh nodded.

“You have all the freedom to ride in the cul-de-sac and the grass and the yards and the sidewalk,” I continued. “But never in the road. Do you understand why? Because I want the best for you, son. And if you get hit by a car, Daddy can’t fix you. And if you die, Daddy will cry and never stop. Please, son, don’t ride in the street!”

“Okay, Daddy.”

I desperately wanted him to understand what the consequences could be if he made the wrong choices and didn’t follow the rule I’d given him. I was old enough and experienced enough and wise enough to know what might happen. But he was only four. How could he know? He just needed to trust me and follow the rules.

That’s what God was saying when he gave Moses the Ten Commandments — God’s top ten for a bigger, better life. He was saying, “Israel, I love you more than you will ever know. Please don’t do these things, or it will cost you every good thing I have for you. It will wreck your life.” Here’s the Myers translation of the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus 20:

  1. Have no other gods before me. (Don’t bow to lesser things.)
  2. No idols. (They are deaf, dumb, and powerless.)
  3. Do not misuse my name. (It’s holy.)
  4. Honor the Sabbath day. (It’s holy.)
  5. Honor your father and your mother. (Honor authority while growing up.)
  6. Do not murder. (Life is precious.)
  7. Do not commit adultery. (Marriage is a holy vow.)
  8. Do not steal. (You don’t want people stealing from you.)
  9. Do not lie. (You don’t want people lying to you or about you.)
  10. Do not covet. (Envy steals peace while destroying gratitude and relationships.)

God delivered the rules along with a promise that if his people followed them, they would be rewarded like no other.

Now if you obey Me fully and keep my covenant, God told them, then out of all nations you will be My treasured possession. Although the whole earth is Mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”1

It’s important to take note of how God’s top ten begins:

I am the Lord your God… You shall have no other gods before Me.2

The order is no accident. Putting God first is first. Why are we to have no other gods? Because there are no other gods. Anything or anyone else is man-made or made up. God is the creator of the universe. He is the source of life. He created matter and the laws of physics that govern it. He defined the boundaries of time and space. Since everything in our universe is governed by physical laws God created, why would we doubt that God would also create moral laws for us to live by?

Let’s circle back to the question that is the title of this chapter, “Why can’t I make my own rules?” The answer: because you’d have to be God. If there is a God who created all things, then only He gets to make the rules. If you want to make your own rules for living and invent your own moral code, you are essentially saying, “I want to be my own god.”

Do you really want to assume all the responsibility of God without any of His power? How do you think that will work out?

So the first rule of life is to have no other gods before God — not even yourself. That means humbly confessing that God is in charge. He rules, not you, not me. We cannot figure out what is righteous and holy on our own because we live in a world that has been corrupted. That’s why God has to help us. Out of His love for Israel, God gave humankind the rules that lead to life, which came to be called the law of Moses. The Ten Commandments were the anchor. They taught moral law, which guided the Israelites in moral conduct and ethical life. But after he gave the Ten Commandments, God also included civil law, instructions for how they were to live together as neighbors and as a society; and ceremonial law, which governed how they were to worship God.

Because God is holy, He admonished His people to be holy,3 and told them how to be holy, according to the covenant He made with them. When Jesus came and established a new covenant, God rewrote the ceremonial law through Him, and God’s relationship with His people in the church echoed the words of the Old Testament:

But you [the church] are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”4

  1. Exodus 19:5-6, emphasis added.
  2. Exodus 20:2-3.
  3. Leviticus 11:44.
  4. 1 Peter 2:9.

Excerpted with permission from Grown-Up Faith by Kevin Myers, copyright Leadership Gravity, LLC, and Wetzel & Wetzel, LLC.

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Your Turn

The more we grow up in our faith and nearer in relationship to Jesus, the more we let go of wishing we could make our own rules. It’s the first rule of life. Today, let’s tell God He gets to be the boss of us, not ourselves. Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you about letting our Creator be our Ruler! ~ Devotionals Daily

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Kevin Myers

Kevin Myers is the senior pastor of 12Stone® Church, one of the largest churches in the United States. A gifted communicator, influential leader, and strategic thinker, Kevin planted the church in 1987 and has grown it to eight campuses. Kevin mentors pastors and church planters, speaks at churches and businesses around the country, and serves on the General Board of the Wesleyan Church as well as the Wesleyan Investment Foundation (WIF), a nonprofit corporation that assists churches with capital needs. Kevin and Marcia, his wife of thirty-six years, have four children and two grandchildren.

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