You're a tennis player. You're playing a critical game in an important tournament. You're serving for the match; if you win this point, you're the champion. You toss the ball into the air and hit it with all your might, but your serve sails past the other player and lands on the grass outside the fence that surrounds the tennis court. "Second serve," the umpire announces.
You get one more chance to serve for the match. You toss the ball into the air and hit it. This time your serve hits the net and bounces back into your court. "Double fault," the umpire intones.
You shake your head in disappointment and prepare to serve again. But the umpire informs you that the score is now tied. You charge the umpire's chair.
"No way!" you protest. "I want to serve again!" You throw your racket to the ground and insist that you always take three serves, not two. You scream that you've been playing tennis for five years. "You have no right to tell me how the game is supposed to be played!" you howl. "I'll decide that for myself." Enraged, you throw your arms up in disgust and storm off the court.
You'd never act that way, of course. You're much too nice, right? Besides, everyone knows that two missed serves a double fault, in tennis lingo scores a point for the server's opponent. Those are the rules. That's the way the game is played.
Yet, surprisingly, a lot of people expect the rules of right and wrong to be different. They think they can make up their own rules as they go along, changing what's wrong or right to fit their mood or circumstance. But right and wrong are just as clear as the rules of tennis. Everyone knows that stealing is wrong and integrity is right; cruelty is wrong, and mercy is right; hate is wrong, and love is right. Those are the rules. And, like the Bible says, "You are not a judge who can decide whether the law is right or wrong. Your job is to obey it. God alone, who made the law, can rightly judge among us" (James 4:11-12).
Of course, as long as good and evil exist in the world, people will continue to try to make up their own rules. But not you. You're much too smart, right?
REFLECT: Do you think tennis would be more fun or less fun if everyone could make up his or her own rules? Why? Do you think life is more fun or less fun when we obey God's rules? Why?
ACT: Challenge a friend or family member to a set of tennis, and use that as an opportunity to share the point of today's reading with him or her. Or simply place a tennis ball or tennis racket in a prominent place in your room this week to remind you that your job is to obey God's rules, not to try to change them or challenge them.
PRAY: "Creator God, you are much wiser than I am. Forgive me for questioning your rule about..."