|Volume 24 Number 3 March 2022
Recently, Alice and I saw a sign that said, “Life Rules,” and the rules were named in this order: “Take chances, follow your dreams, risk it all, fall in love, believe in yourself, ask questions, let go, make mistakes, start over, speak the truth, take responsibility, find happiness, live for today.” I’ll agree that some of these are very good rules for daily living if being done for the right reason.
Follow your dreams! There’s an old saying, “When one dreams dreams, some of them are bound to come true.” If people before us hadn’t had a vision for the future, many of the comforts and even necessities would not be available to us today. The same is true for those to follow after us. Those dreams cause us to believe in ourselves. If we didn’t dream and believe in ourselves to accomplish those dreams, we would tread water, getting nowhere in life.
And ask questions! We’ve all had small children at our feet, asking questions faster than we could answer them. Don’t take someone’s word just because they said it; delve into the truth of the matter and see what makes things “tick.”
The next life rule was to let go! This is something that must be taken with the outlook that letting go could be detrimental, not only to ourselves but to those around us. Are we sure we want this to happen? We must always maintain some control over our feelings, attitudes and words. We all have and will continue to “make mistakes” and “start over.” Life goes on, even when we do make mistakes, and we must not wallow in self-pity but strive to do better.
When things go wrong in our lives, we should take responsibility for our share of what caused things to go wrong. Sometimes things get bad because of something we alone did, but that’s not always the case. Yet, sometimes our own attitudes and actions caused the wrong, and we need to be big enough to admit it.
Now, let’s look at some of the “life rules” that demand more of our attention. Take chances! When given the law, God’s people were instructed to, “Fear the Lord God and serve Him” (Deuteronomy 6:13 NKJV). If we allow anything to come between us and our dedication to God, we are taking the biggest chance we’ll ever take, and it won’t be for the best. We must keep the right perspective and not take chances with our souls.
Risk it all! When we risk it all, we take the chance of losing our soul in the process, for Jesus taught, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). God and good must always be the reason for staying sound and maintaining control of our lives (and souls). Don’t risk your soul!
Fall in love! Philosophy gives us these reasons people have for living: (a) to live, (b) to love and to be loved, (c) to be with others, (d) to excel and (e) to believe in something everlasting. Loving is only secondary to living. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The Lord has appeared to me, saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). God loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for us. We must make sure that the objects of our affection are everlasting ones, not worldly ones!
Speak the truth! Jesus taught: “You are of your father the devil… does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). In other words, if you don’t speak the truth, you speak lies and you belong to Satan. Followers of Christ must always ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15).
Find happiness! Often folks are happy only when they are basking in earthly pleasures. The psalmist said, “…Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Psalm 144:15). In teaching His followers the kind of people they ought to be, Jesus told them the rules to follow and said, “…Blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17). What could possibly cause anyone to be happier than to know that he is doing the things that will be rewarded by a home in Heaven? Be happy in the Lord!
Live for Today! This philosophy is rampant in the world. People are seeking pleasure in earthly things as if that’s all that matters. Living for today brings sin into people’s lives and separates them from God. Paul nailed this one when he said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Today is going to end, and eventually this earth with it. Eternity is in front of us. Where do you want to spend yours? Strive to follow “life rules” that will be rewarded by an eternal heavenly home!
The Consequences of Sin
Sin promises a garden of delight, full of sweet fruits. The reality of it, however, is far from that promise. The poison of sin is fatal to our souls.
In 2 Samuel, chapter 13, we read of a terrible sin. It involved incest, rape and heartache. David had succumbed to sin’s promises with Bathsheba, and the consequences for him, his family and the nation were dire indeed. Here were some of the results.
Amnon was the eldest son of King David. He was in a position of power and could have anything or anyone he wanted; yet, what he wanted was his half-sister, the princess Tamar! In 2 Samuel 13:1, we read of Amnon’s wicked desire: “After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her” (NKJV). Later, we see the tragic consequences of Amnon’s sin and David’s earlier sin with Bathsheba. From verses 2-12, we read of Amnon conspiring to commit sexual assault on his half-sister. In 2 Samuel 13:12-15, we read of the result of Amnon’s sinful desire. The terrified girl protested. “No, my brother,” she said to him. “‘Do not force me, for no such thing should be done in Israel. Do not do this disgraceful thing! And I, where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.’ However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, ‘Arise, be gone!’”
Amnon did what so many others have done when they commit a sin that’s truly terrible. They hate the object of their desire. Amnon hated Tamar! He blamed her for his desire! He refused to accept responsibility for his dreadful act! Sin is compounded upon sin as sure as the sun rises. Amnon ordered his servant to get his half-sister away from him. However, burying his head in the sand did not remove the sin, and his was life destroyed.
In 2 Samuel 13:19, we read that Tamar put ashes on her head, rent her garment, laid her hand on her head, and cried. In the culture of ancient Israel, poor Tamar would never find a mate because of her brother’s wickedness. Her future was ruined, and all because of the wickedness of another.
When Tamar’s brother, Absalom, found out what happened, he took the law into his own hands and conspired to have Amnon killed. In 2 Samuel 13:28, the Word tells us, “Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, ‘Watch now, when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, Strike Amnon! then kill him.’” In order to escape punishment, we’re told that Absalom fled, but returned with an army of rebellion and was slain in battle.
God defines sin, and when we seek to somehow legitimize our sinful actions, we build a sea of sorrow for ourselves and our families. David was forgiven of his sin, but the damage done was long-lasting. David and his sons, Amnon and Absalom, drank from the cup of sin, and it tasted sweet at the time, but it poisoned them. Sin almost destroyed David and actually destroyed his children.
The Gospel calls for us to turn and repent from sin (Acts 2:38). The Lord Jesus tells us to believe in Him (which includes His commands) or face condemnation (Mark 16:16). Take responsibility for your sin. Bring your sins before God and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 22:16). Spew the sin out and breathe the Word in, trusting in the promise of the good news!