Psalm 119:33,34 – “Teach me, O LORD, to follow every one of your principles. Give me understanding and I will obey your law; I will put it into practice with all my heart.”
Years ago I attended a workshop about learning styles. The teacher talked about how they affect the way people respond to rules.
One learning style—concrete random, if I remember correctly—sees no need for following rules if they don’t seem logical.
The teacher gave an example from her own life. She said that she lived in a city with several large shopping centres. “The parking lots have stop signs,” she said. “Some of them are in stupid places. I’ll slow down and look both ways, but I won’t come to a full stop because their placement makes no sense.”
She gave a second example, this one about escalators in stores. “The escalators have signs that say strollers aren’t allowed,” she said. “One day I went shopping with a friend who took her stroller with us. She read the sign on the escalator and immediately turned around to look for the elevator, but I stopped her. I said to her, ‘Watch this.’ Then I put the stroller on the escalator and went up without a problem.
“My friend nearly had a tizzy fit because I disregarded the sign, but I saw things differently. I saw the rule as written for people who didn’t know how to safely ride the escalator with a stroller. But that wasn’t an issue for me, so the rule didn’t apply.”
While I don’t condone this speaker’s actions, they certainly help me understand how people think and why they do the things they do. I suspect the same thinking often applies to God’s Word.
If the rule doesn’t make sense to us, then we figure it doesn’t apply. Sometimes we disregard the rule because it interferes with our wants or our felt needs. Or we just don’t like it. Or we’re too lazy to apply it.
One rule that’s become very real to me over the past year or so is to treat my body like the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). I used to disregard it because exercise took too much time from my schedule. Besides, I like sour cream and onion chips. And chocolate. But I began to pay for my disobedience, and my “temple” fell into disrepair. Not only did I lose my mobility for three months, but I gained a lot of weight. I hurt everywhere, and my activities became limited.
I don’t disregard that rule anymore. I’m learning about health and nutrition, and I go the gym every morning at 5:30 for an hour (every morning I’m in town, that is). The Lord has blessed me with several accountability partners and a group of wonderful women with whom I do a weekly Bible study by First Place 4 Health. I’m tracking my food intake and making better food choices.
Obeying this rule is changing my life. I’ve lost 44 pounds so far and I feel stronger than I’ve felt in years. I’m beyond grateful for how the Lord is teaching me to follow His principles and helping me obey His word rather than my appetite.
How about you? With what biblical command do you struggle? Ask the Lord to teach you how to follow it and then rely on His strength to help you practice it with all your heart.