The baseball coach dug six shiny new batting helmets out of a cardboard box in the back of his van. Several players stood ready to carry the helmets to the baseball diamond where they practiced. Three players took two helmets apiece and walked away. They turned the helmets around and around in their hands as they walked to the diamond.
Each player noticed that these helmets were different from the helmets they'd always used. They were heavier. They had ear-flaps on both sides. And a clear piece of plastic curved around the front of each helmet like a football player's face mask.
Every player on the team looked at the new helmets. Every player knew that these helmets were different. Every player inspected the new face mask. But no one complained.
No one said, "Hey, coach, do we have to wear these new helmets?"
No one said, "Those face masks are gonna be a real pain!"
No one said, "Why do we have to wear helmets anyway?" No one said, "They're so confining." No one said, "We could have a lot more fun without them."
No one said any of those things because they had all been at the game last summer when their teammate, Tad Rohmer, was hit by a pitch that shattered his jaw, a pitch that would affect his speech and hearing for the rest of his life. No one said anything because they were thinking of Tad and knew that the helmets were intended to protect them.
Those batting helmets are like the commands of God. He tells us to "love one another," "be self-controlled," "flee sexual immorality," and all those other commands because he loves us. His commands aren't intended to confine us or make us miserable; they're intended "for our own prosperity and well-being" (Deuteronomy 6:24).
Just as a batting helmet can protect an athlete from a broken jaw (or worse), God's commands protect us from guilt and shame, from disease and disappointment, from all sorts of problems and pain. Living our life according to God's commands won't guarantee that we'll never get hurt or have problems, but it will bring about prosperity and well-being in many ways.
REFLECT: Have you ever felt like God's commands were a nuisance or a bother? Why or why not? Do you think God gave us commands to do us good or to do us harm? Do you think living your life according to God's commands helps you? If not, why not? If so, how? Should we be upset with God or thankful to him for giving his commands to us? Why?
PRAY: "God, I know your commands are meant to protect me and help me. Please help me to obey your commands and always do what is right."