So, today after church I was a having a discussion with my wife, the contents of the conversation are unimportant, but the resulting thought is worth sharing.
Many of God’s commandments to us are one sided. By that I mean that they are simply to be followed. There is no clause saying that when you do something, then something else will happen. Additionally, there is no escape clause. There is no situation where you are allowed to ignore his command because of an extenuating circumstance. To demonstrate, I think I’d like to start with the Ten Commandments and then add a couple other examples.
Taken from Exodus 20.
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
13 “You shall not murder.
14 “You shall not commit adultery.
15 “You shall not steal.
16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”
So, I’ve included all of them just because it’s good to read all ten commandments every so often. For the purposes of this discussion, however, I just want to pick on a couple.
My point is easily demonstrated, so I’ll go through these in fairly rapid succession.
First, “You shall not steal”. Notice, that it doesn’t say, “You shall not steal, unless you are starving and it is the only way to feed yourself.” Neither does God make any exceptions for warmth or sickness. Don’t steal. Period.
The next is a bit more complicated. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”. Although the commandment itself is easy enough, it provides a good stepping off point to talk about lying, which is condemned in many other places in the Bible. Now bold faced lies are easy, but what about lies designed to save someone else pain and suffering? God doesn’t allow us to lie to prevent hurting someone’s feelings. Instead his Word tells us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians).
Let’s examine “Honor your father and mother…” Notice, that God doesn’t tell us to honor our father and mother, unless our father left the family when we were two years old, or our mother was an alcoholic. We are commanded to honor our father and mother. That’s it.
Conversely, parents are told not to provoke their children to wrath. It doesn’t matter if your child has become a rebellious hellion, defying you at every turn. Don’t provoke your children. An in depth discussion on this is beyond the scope of this writing. The point is still that we (as parents) are given a command and the actions of the child don’t change the command.
Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church. Wives submit to your husbands. It doesn’t matter if your wife has grown cold and undermines you. It doesn’t matter if your husband is an idiot. The commands are there with no escape clauses. Abuse and infidelity are, again, beyond the scope of this article.
If you read the Bible carefully, you will see many examples where we are given commandments that are exclusive unto themselves. Our obedience to them is neither contingent upon a fulfilled reciprocation nor is it nullified by a negative action on the part of the other party. I view marriage this way. When I took my vows, I said, “…until death do we part.” It doesn’t matter what my wife does, I will be her husband until my death.
Now, here’s the part where it gets good for us. We know that God is constant. He tells us that he is the same today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). The awesome part is (and read this slowly) that just as God expects us to follow his commands regardless of circumstances or the actions of others, so will he fulfill his promises regardless of circumstances or our actions. It says a lot for the “permanent salvation” school of thought. If we believe on His name and ask Jesus to come into our lives, forgive us our sins, and take control, God will save us and bring us to heaven at the end. We know this because God is constant and his Word is consistent. This is where it’s awesome. It doesn’t matter how many times we fall and fail. No matter how many times we sin, God will fulfill his promise. Awesome, eh? Of course, I’m not condoning a sinful lifestyle here. The whole sincerity debate is (again) beyond the scope of this article.
The point is that we are to be obedient to God’s commands regardless of others actions or extenuating circumstances. God too will fulfill his promises regardless of circumstance or our actions.
Well, that’s it.