Know Your Bible

VOL. 9                           July 18, 2010                           NO. 29

 Bending The Rules


            A gentleman once asked me on a radio program, "Can't you bend the rules a little bit?" My initial reaction to his question was surprise. In the  context of a discussion about the need to abide within the truth of our Lord, how could someone ask if it was possible to bend the rules? But upon further reflection, it has become easy to see what would cause him to ask such a question.


            "Bending the rules" has become a way of life with most people in this day and time. They claim that there are no absolutes.


            Is it even necessary to mention how people bend the rules when it comes to obeying the laws of our land? If the speed limit is 55, most interpret that to mean 60. A few weeks ago I heard a highway patrolman say that the average speed on I-75 between Cincinnati and Dayton is 80 mph. Have you ever noticed how, in many instances, a yellow light no longer means slow down and prepare to stop -- but rather, speed up so you can make it through? I have known people who prefer to be paid in cash in order to avoid any record of income so they can "bend the rules a little bit" when it comes tax time. In sports, coaches and players regularly push the rules to the limit, even "bending them a little bit" if it means they might gain an advantage. In schools with dress codes, students make a habit of seeing just how far they can "bend he rules" and get away with it. "Bending the rules" is common place and people do it daily.


            But how does God feel about bending His rules? In Rom. 15:4 Paul wrote, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." Recognizing the value of "whatever  was written in earlier times," perhaps we can find some indication of how God feels about those who "bend His rules" in the Old Testament.


            Cain was evidently a "rule bender." He offered a sacrifice that was not according to God's instructions. I am sure that he felt satisfied in "bending the rules" to suit himself, but was God pleased? Gen. 4:5-7 gives the answer: "But for Cain and his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why has your contenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."


            How about Nadab and Abihu? God told the people from where fire was to come for the burning of incense. Nadab and Abihu decided to "bend the rules a little bit" and get the fire from a place other than the one God had designated. The incense was still going to burn, and would smell the same. So what was the big deal? "And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord" (Lev. 10:2). The "big deal" was that God had given the rules and these two men "bent" them.


            In the New Testament we are told not to go beyond that which is written. "Now these things, brethren, I have figurativly applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other" (1 Cor. 4:6). "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son" (2 Jno. 9). At no time is permission ever given to "bend" the rules of God -- not even a "little bit."


            A person might be a "bender of rules" all the days of his life and consistently get away with it. But when life is over, so too is the getting away with it. We can't bend God's rules, even a little bit. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).


                                                                                                                                                                           ---Greg Litmer

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Permissive Parents


            Children can influence their parents just as parents can influence their children. The following story about an imaginary couple may have been duplicated in the lives of many of our readers.


             George and Mary were a wonderful couple as they began their life together. Throughout their youth they had received strong teaching concerning worldliness, and their conduct showed the effects of that teaching. They had been taught faithfulness in attendance, and they never missed a service for "anything." In character and conviction, they were blameless.


             This young couple failed, however, to instill into the hearts of their children these same convictions. Consequently, as the children reached their teens, they began to put pressure on their parents to let them do what all the other young people were doing. Gradually the will of the parents was broken down, and they began to permit their children to do things they never dreamed their children would do.


             Rationalization came easy for George and Mary. "After all, the Bible is not specific in these matters," they thought. "The Bible says 'modest apparel,' but it doesn't define modesty." "And, they're only planning to go to the dance; they aren't planning to dance." "We can't say 'no' to everything," they said.


             When Junior began to show unusual athletic ability, the question of attending services became a problem. At first they took Junior out of games and brought him to midweek services, but then the team began to depend more and more on him. The play-offs came, and the team's only hope in the play-offs was for Junior to play. George and Mary gave in. And once they had given in, they had no more argument for the future. Junior never missed another game to "go to church."


             George and Mary often found themselves on the defensive in Bible classes. They began to argue for their children's behavior. And, the more accustomed they became to their children's actions, the more innocent their actions seemed to be. Eventually, their own conduct became affected.


            They reached the point where they thought nothing of missing on Friday night during a meeting to see Junior play ball. Mary even adopted some of the daughter's dress habits, although remaining sufficiently "discreet" to stay in the good graces of the brethren.


             Yes, George and Mary are still in good standing in the church, and their change has been so gradual that many fail to realize that they are not the strong Christians they formerly were.


             What happened to George and Mary? Instead of bringing their children "up" in the nurture and admonition of the "Lord," their children brought them "down" in the nurture and admonition of the "devil." Our children may do wrong, but they must not do wrong with our permission! We do not seek anger, but repentance. Parents, would your names fit in the place of “George” an “Mary” in the above story?


                                                                                                                                                                                   ---Bill Hall


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‘Do We Have To Go To Church?’


            Most parents have either already heard this from their kids, or will hear it in the future. Seems most children go through a phase in which they question the need for faithful attendance at all of the assemblies.  When this happens, what’s a parent to do? Here are some suggestions:


1. Set a good example - Never let your children see you compromise your commitment to the Lord for any other thing. This means, in particular, never let them see you miss the assemblies for the activities of this world. Be careful not to allow recreational pursuits to come between you and God. If you do, you’ll be teaching your kids a lesson that you don’t want them to learn! Ballgames and golf, hunting and fishing, even vacations, can’t begin to compare in importance to serving God. Use caution, too, in regards to your work. Too often Christians let their jobs interfere with their spiritual service. And NEVER, NEVER, NEVER let them observe you staying home simply because you "don't feel like" attending the services. In other words, be sure that you have your own priorities in order! 


2. Teach them to love God - Really, there’s something wrong with the “do we have to” mentality. Anything we do for God should be done out of deep and sincere love for Him.We love Him, because He first loved us(1 John 4:19). Work hard to instill this attitude in your children. Any other motivation will ultimately fail. Again, be sure that you have this attitude firmly fixed in your own mind. They are watching you, and imitating what they see!


3. Bottom line: Be sure that they are present at all the assembiles - no matter what!  Kids are kids - they need to be taught. They do not naturally understand all the things that are in their own best interest. For that reason we MAKE them do some things that they don’t always want to do (i.e., take baths, go to school, etc.). Learning to love and serve God is the most important lesson of all. Therefore, any parent who really wants what’s best for his child will make sure he’s present even when that means forcing the situation a little. Keep working, of course, at developing the right attitudes in your kids - but get them here one way or the other!


            Remember parents, it is your job to “...provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nuture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

                                                                                                                                                                             ---Greg Gwin



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