It is a rare person who does not like benefits. The working we do, the toiling we face, and the utter anguish we endure are all resolved when benefits follow closely behind. You may know that ‘benefits‘ is generally described as, “something that is advantageous or good.” Sometimes, even having an advantage can be considered a benefit, as in; a race, or a salary, or even good health. These rewards are even the core motivator for many people. “Get’n something out of it” is the mantra for many, many people. “What’s in it for me?” or even “I don’t work for noth’n” are phrases we hear all too often.
Frankly though, it is God’s fault! How is that for a twist?
Way back in the Garden of Eden when God was giving Adam ‘the lay of the land’ as it were, He told him, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17)
One of the first benefits we obtained was life itself. But, even better… the promise of never dying, actually… as long as we followed one simple rule. See… God set into motion man’s Free-Will choice for life or death… for right or wrong… even for advantage or disadvantage in life.
We are actually admonished and reminded to always consider God’s benefits in our lives. Psalms 103:2 (KJV) tells us, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Keeping ourselves aware of the benefits of God’s presence in our lives is a great motivator… a wonderful checks-n-balances way of setting the tone for your outlook on tomorrow.
Remember too though, sin and disobedience have benefits… there are ‘fruits’ for any and all actions in our lives; good or bad. Sure… they are not instantaneous or as prompt as a ‘pay out’ on a vending or gambling machine… all too often, they take a lifetime to begin to show in our lives. So, if you are looking for instant gratification of God’s benefits, please adjust your heart… adjust your expectations… and learn to wait on Him for His blessings.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”John 15:5 (KJV)
So… remaining in God’s will… remaining in His presence and He in your heart… these are the mechanisms for obtaining His benefits… His blessings… His guard over our lives. Easier said than done, I know…. we are wanderers.. we are in a world that is so driven by ‘get results now, if not sooner’. Remember back when the Microwave oven was introduced to society… we were so thrilled that we could heat something up within 2-3 minutes. Today… we impatiently wait for the thing to finally get it done! If websites don’t load on our phone within 3-7 seconds, we click over to another one.
Gravity and Football
While rules get a bad rap, they do actually have many benefits… many blessings for our lives. Many of which we have enjoyed for so long that we take them for granted. Many of them have been part of this world way longer than we have been on the earth. Take Gravity for example. Sure, I rarely give gravity a second thought as I go through my days… my weeks… my months and years. But, there it is… following the one rule it was given; pull things toward the earth.
Think about gravity for a quick minute. As far as we know, it has always been present on earth. It is holding (pulling) everything toward the earth’s surface. Again… we don’t give it a second thought, but look around you… notice all the tables-n-chairs… the automobiles… even the houses and buildings. Almost none of them are actually anchored to the ground. We have accepted that the Gravity will always be ‘on’, so we don’t need to anchor them down. They are heavy enough to not float away. Gravity is following a rule, and we are benefiting from it… we are actually taking for granted that it will always work. Pure calamity will ensue if gravity ever fails… if gravity had a will of it’s own and ‘forgot’ to stay on… if gravity went to sleep and neglected to set the ‘autopilot’ control to ensure everything was still getting pulled to the earth.
“Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter. “Psalms 74:17 (KJV)
So, God set the borders, the rules, the guidelines for the earth to ‘perform’ and operate. We benefit from this consistent foundation… we benefit from a system God established. Another system that has benefits due to the established rules is a Football field… or most any sport, actually. There are plenty of rules in the game of Football. They help establish fairness, consistency, and most certainly help resolve conflict (a player steps out of bounds while carrying the ball). Man invented this game and many others. The rules, the borders, the guidelines were all established and have even been modified over the years. But, we benefit from these rules even though there are many times when we may not agree with the rule… we may challenge the rules… we may even completely dismiss the rule as useless or senseless. Nonetheless, rules do have their benefits.
Rules also help with conflict resolution. The courts and lawyers rely heavily on rules (laws). Sure… interpretation comes into play with the laws that man has made… many times, we also want to interpret God’s laws/rules, too. We saw the first debate about God’s rules back in the Garden of Eden. What God said is what He meant. When we debate and struggle over what He said… well… turmoil begins anew! Luke 17:3 (KJV) reminds us; “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.” This is a classic case of a rule being broken and how to resolve that conflict, and then realize and enjoy the benefits (jewels). Back before Jesus’ birth, the Old Testament was the ‘law’ or rules that the Jewish people used… God’s rules for their success;
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.“Joshua 1:8 (KJV)
One last thing to make a clear as I can… the rule that God gave Adam about not eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is this little nugget and newsflash; this rule did not come under scrutiny between the serpent and Eve for the content… for its boundaries… not even for its actual scope (not eating the fruit from ‘that’ tree). What came into question, and what the serpent ‘beguiled’ Eve with… was God’s intent for having the rule in the first place. What got twisted was God’s purpose… God’s underlying reason… God’s hidden agenda, as it were. Calling into question the very honor and integrity of God… taunting Eve with the idea that it is probably OK to not follow the details of this rule because the originator (God) might have some devious goal… some corrupt and impure ploy to influence your behavior.
The rule and its limitations remained intact. The serpent did not challenge the wording of that rule… he challenged the underlying intent. Once he was able to twist enough half-truth into the discussion, Eve was hooked. Too often, we too get mired in the intent of God’s leading… and need to just focus on obeying His leading.
“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.“Proverbs 25:28 (KJV)
You alone are responsible for you alone.
Grasp that thought for a few minutes… even tag it in your heart and review it over the next few hours…. days. The rewards of obeying rules.. of following God’s leading and His guidelines for us are righteousness, to say the least. Sure… at face value that may not seem like a true ‘prize’ or benefit for keeping a rule or law when every part of your being is struggling to challenge that rule and bend it a little. Remember though, Romans 6:16 reminds us, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?“
Scope of Responsibility
One of the key elements to applying a rule in your life is to reflect on the scope of responsibility of that rule. You see… once you are able to determine the scope (how far does this rule reach), it is much easier and cleaner to adapt your life to accept and support the rule. Here are two extreme examples (extreme from each other);
Dominion Over all the Earth
At the beginning of the world, God gave man full dominion over the earth and everything on it. Genesis 1:28 KJV states, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.“
And… not one of the other beings on this planet are capable of having dominion like mankind has. This one rule God passed to us ensure’s we are not going to have anything but ourselves blocking access to Himself. Also though, all the other beings on this earth do not have the free-will that mankind has.
This one rule has such a rich benefit for us… such a wealth of comfort… mankind is at the top of the food-chain (not to say we can not be overtaken and consumed by any of them) and we are responsible for them, not them for us.
Driving Speed Limit
Almost no-one likes speed limits on our roadways. They are there as a universal rule or limitation and all offenders could be cited… well… if you are caught in the action. The ‘could’ part is always important. This one rule was intended for all drivers, bar-none (excluding emergency vehicles). But, the scope of this rule really applies to you as an individual.
I mean… you are not responsible for all the other drivers obeying this rule. This rule does apply to everyone (established by the government in charge of the land), but you are not allowed to cite anyone for breaking this rule.
And then there is the ‘affect’ of violating this rule God gave man;
Thou shalt surely die.. not!
Literally, this was not the case for Adam and Eve. God must have meant something else by this statement… and that is usually where we get ourselves into deeper trouble. We tend to interpret the meaning of God’s leading and His guidance for us, or His instructions to us. Worse though… we know deep in our hearts what the meaning is or was… but, we ‘reason with the serpent‘ about it all and it gets twisted into seeming like we are actually doing God a favor to bypass His leading… we end up justifying why we are not following it, or obeying it… we end making the truth a lie and treat the lie as though it was truth. We are ultimately convinced we are doing the right thing… and calamity soon follows!
Source of Truth
Before we head off and begin reshaping our lives due to the rules and truths we encounter, we really need to be careful to be sure of the source of truth in the first place. I mean… when Eve was having that debate/discussion with the serpent about the underlying meaning for God telling man that we were not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil… I wonder how it all would have really played out if Eve had told the serpent something like, “Really? Hmmmm… when God comes back to the garden later today, let’s ask him to explain why we cannot eat of that tree”.
I know… hindsight is almost always a clearer picture than the ‘in the moment’ picture. Rules… instructions… directions… are much, much harder to follow when you use more than one source for the explanation or ‘example’ of applying the rule.
Steps to Live By (an example)
- Remove the wheel from the bike.
- Step up using your good leg while relying on the railing.
- Find a good spot to pray. You will find that you can pray anytime, anywhere, anyhow.
- Use both hands to pick up the lines. Use your fingers to separate each line group, as well as the steering line.
- To properly wink, lower the eyelid of the chosen eye while keeping the other eye open. When you are first starting out, you may have to concentrate pretty hard to make this work.
You may have noticed that these ‘instructions’ are very wrong… impossible to follow… and certainly quite tough to even be sure you are getting the proper result. In the first place, they are actually instructions for separate how-to guides. In the second place, they have not continuity (relationship to each other).
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness“2 Timothy 3:16 KJV
As we can see from that passage, we can use the scripture for all our instruction… guidance… doctrine… and even reproof. One of the core-key problems we all encounter in this life… too many sources of truth… too many sets of instructions… interpretations of instructions… variations of how-to, DIY, and even ‘self help’ guides for life. The real Jewel of Rules is being sure and conscientious that you are not being taunted by too many voices in your ear. Eve had that beguiling serpent teasing her with just enough half-truth to convince her this ‘new way’ was even better than God’s original rule.
It even says in Proverbs 19:27, “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge“, which is so critical for us… so necessary to see that not all ‘instruction’ is fruitful for our lives… not always God’s way… God’s will.
How to do this is simple, really… see… it tells us in Proverbs 3:6, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Notice… in ALL your ways… in everything you do… not just when you need God’s guidance… not just when panic has consumed you… not only when calamity is more than you can resolve on your own. In ALL your ways, find how God is moving in your life and He ‘will’ direct your path. Simply stated, follow God’s rules and He’ll lead your steps. FWIW… ‘paths’ in that passage is another way of saying “way of living’!
“The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.” Proverbs 12:24 KJV
The benefits of life in the original garden was a long, peaceful, and prosperous life. As with any system, success is influenced with the application of rules and guidelines. In our current lives, we are not reduced to any ‘make the best of it‘ challenge… we have the power and support of Jesus directly… to nurture and grow us. Rules channel our behavior… rules help shape our character… rules ensure consistency, fairness, and most importantly approval and acceptance, too.
Romans 5:19 KJV reminds us, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Even Jesus obeyed the leading God had for Him…. and we are now able to benefit from His example, His sacrifice, and His commitment to God.