And God spoke all these words:
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.” – Exodus 20:1-6 (NIV)
Everyone has a ruler. We all have something that defines our thoughts and actions. There is a power or presence or person that holds sway over us in a way that nothing else does. For the believer, our ruler is God. This does not mean that we always act as if God rules us, but that we have chosen God as our ruler. For others, it is their career. For some, it is their relationships. Still others are ruled by their passions. Children have a ruler from the moment they are born: self-interest.
This may seem harsh, but it is reality. Children are interested in their needs and their needs alone. They have to learn to share. They have to learn to consider others. They need a ruler. In the home, fathers and mothers are that ruler, setting the tone for their children to understand and accept God as their ruler later on in life. The people of Israel needed a ruler, and rules, but they were ruled by self-interest. God had sent them the Ten Commandments, but they wanted a God they could define and rules they could follow without any effort.
God’s rules create boundaries and give shape to things. They help us make decisions that honor Him and bless those around us. They bring focus and definition to the fuzziness of a confused and contradictory world. Rules give us a language that explains the motivation and meaning of our actions. God’s rules help shape us into the image of His Son. God’s rules mold us into creatures fit for heaven.
Teaching our children rules helps prepare them for a ruler. When we teach them how to share, not to lie, or clean up their own mess we are preparing them for God’s commands. Rules are not to be broken. Rules mend. Rules make us whole. Rules allow us to experience a freedom we can never experience in anarchy and rebellion.
Lord, help me teach your rules to my children in grace and love. Give me the wisdom to define the boundaries of righteousness to my children as they grow and mature. Let me set and example by living within your rules each day. Amen.