A PLAYGROUND FENCE.
Imagine a cool playground filled with happy kids. Some kids are playing on the massive log jungle gym in the center of the playground, climbing in and out of the many openings, tubes, and passages, swinging on bars, playing "fort," and "pirates," and all kinds of other games. Some kids are swinging on the gigantic swing set in one corner of the playground, pumping their legs in rhythm. They smile as the wind blows their hair and giggle as the motion tickles their tummies. Other kids are crawling around the large square sandbox in another corner, digging and shaping the warm sand. Still others are playing on the seesaw, sliding down the slide, or spinning on the merry-go-round.
Now, what if I told you that the playground is surrounded on four sides with a high fence? Would that spoil your picture of the playground? The children can leave the fenced area anytime they want, of course, but if they want to enjoy the playground, they have to play inside the fence.
Does that sound cruel or confining? No? Why not?
"Well," you might say, "some playgrounds have fences because they're right next to a busy street. If there were no fences, the kids might run out into the street and get hurt. Or," you might add, "this playground could be built next to a river or pond, and the fences are there to keep kids from wandering into danger. Or," you might suggest, "maybe this playground has a fence to keep people from coming in and messing up the playground equipment when nobody's there."
And you would be right, of course. We can see that fences around playgrounds are good; they protect the kids and make it easier for them to have fun.
God's commands work the same way. They're not given to us to be cruel or confining. He gave us commands (such as "Don't steal," "Love one another," and "Honor your father and mother") so that we can enjoy as much freedom as possible while still being protected from all sorts of dangers. His commands are meant to be like a playground fence-protecting us and setting us free to have fun.
REFLECT: In today's Bible reading, what two things did Paul say God's law is like? How are God's commands like a playground fence? Do you think obeying God's commands (such as "Don't steal," "Love one another," and "Honor your father and mother") can protect you from danger? If so, what dangers?
PRAY: "Lord, thank you for giving me guidance for my life that will keep me from being hurt. Help me to stay inside the loving protection of your commands."