I was on a flight from Toronto to San Francisco. When the seat belt sign turned on to indicate we were on our final approach, I told my wife to watch what happens next. Almost on cue, five people stood up to either go to the washroom or get their luggage ready. Why do people have such a difficult time following the rules?
We are continuing our series on decisions that will ultimately determine our legacy. So far, we have looked at:
Decision #4: What Rules & Ethics Guide Your Life?
Do you remember Ben Johnson? He was the Canadian sprinter who won the 100 metre race and Gold medal in the 1988 Olympic Games. He was on top of the world – until he wasn’t. Within days of winning, he became a global disgrace as he tested positive for steroids and was subsequently disqualified. He thought he was crowned, but his cheating resulted in him losing that crown.
In 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul reminds Timothy that we are crowned when we compete according to the rules. What rules?
Jordan Peterson and Rules
For those who think we are a society who is not interested in rules, all you have to do is look at the popularity of Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. This book has had around 3 million copies sold.
In the book, Peterson invites readers to a life of meaning over happiness. He suggests rules that will help the reader accomplish this goal.
I am not here to review Peterson’s book. I’m simply using this as an example that people are not against understanding rules. The problem is, what happens when we all live by our own or a different set of rules? This is where chaos and anarchy thrive.
The Rules for Living
The point the apostle Paul was going for is that if we want to be crowned as victorious, then we need to play by the rules. In order to avoid chaos and anarchy, there needs to be one set of overarching rules to guide everyone – kind of like there is a governing body who creates rules for different sports.
For humans, those rules have been created by God. Believe it or not, God still has rules. These rules have been created to help humanity thrive and to reflect the image of God well. Do not lie or steal has not changed. It’s still wrong to covet your neighbour’s wife, commit adultery, and cheat on your taxes. God still wants us to love each other as He has loved us. I could go on and on, but you get the point.
In an age where Christians like to (rightfully) talk about God’s grace, we too often seem to forget the rules are still there. Too many people look for ways to bend the rules. We think we can lust after a woman privately, and nobody will get hurt. We think we can hide a few things on our tax return, and the government will never catch it.
Rules Determine Legacy
According to Paul, the rules you follow for your life will ultimately determine the reward you receive. I believe too many men settle for temporary rewards. If we want to pursue rewards that come from God, then we need to seek to follow God’s rules. This means making the effort to learn and know His rules.
If you want a cheat sheet and not feel completely overwhelmed, Jesus did a great job of summarizing all of God’s rules when He said:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.
Fly By The Rules
One final thought. When I have flown into Israel, the seat belt sign lights up as soon as you enter Israeli airspace. Nobody ever gets up once that sign goes on. Why? I don’t pretend to know all of the reasons, but I do know there is a sense of real consequences for breaking the rules and real reward for following them.
Maybe we all need to take a little more seriously the reality of consequences or rewards for following God’s rules.