I met a delightful woman named “Momma Charlie,” who has raised a dozen or so foster kids. These youngsters were assigned to her by the courts, and she gave them a home with stability, guidance, and love. She told me that every time a new child arrived, the first order of business was to explain “Momma’s Rules.” These included behavioral standards, plus chores that would provide much-needed help in the busy household while teaching accountability to kids with little previous training.
Some of the children may have balked at “Momma’s Rules,” thinking they were robbing them of fun or pleasure—yet nothing would be further from the truth. Those standards allowed for an orderly household where both Momma and the children could find life enjoyable and peaceful.
Similarly, some look at the standards God set forth in the Bible as obstacles that prevent us from enjoying life. However, the boundaries God places actually protect us from our worst inclinations and foster healthy responses to Him.
In Ephesians 4, for example, Paul provides some guidance for how we are to live. As we live by these and other loving instructions from God, we find protection and the opportunity for true, lasting joy.
A missionary recently visited the Bible study I was attending. She described what it had been like to pack up her household, part with friends, and relocate to a distant country. When she and her family arrived, they were greeted with a flourishing drug-trade and hazardous roadways. The language barrier brought on bouts of loneliness. They contracted four different stomach viruses. And her oldest daughter narrowly escaped death after falling through a railing on an unsafe stairwell. They needed prayer.
The apostle Paul experienced danger and hardship as a missionary. He was imprisoned, shipwrecked, and beaten. It’s no surprise that his letters contained pleas for prayer. He asked the believers in Thessalonica to pray for success in spreading the gospel—that God’s Word would “run swiftly and be glorified” (2 Thess. 3:1) and that God would deliver him from “unreasonable and wicked men” (v.2). Paul knew he would need to “open [his] mouth boldly” and declare the gospel (Eph. 6:19), which was yet another prayer request.
Do you know people who need supernatural help as they spread the good news of Christ? Remember Paul’s appeal, “Brethren, pray for us” (2 Thess. 3:1), and intercede for them before the throne of our powerful God.
Throughout my life, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. I have boxes of things that at one time were important but over time have lost their intrigue. And, as an unrepentant collector, I’ve realized that the thrill is in searching for and acquiring a new piece to add to the collection. Then my attention turns toward the hunt for the next item.
While we pile up many things that are important to us, very little of it is really precious. In fact, over time I have learned that the most precious things in life are not material items at all. Rather, it’s the people who have loved me and built into my life who are precious. When I find my heart saying, “I don’t know what I’d do without them,” I know that they are indeed precious to me.
So when Peter refers to Jesus as “a chief cornerstone, elect, precious” (1 Peter 2:6), it should resonate in our hearts that He is truly precious—our prized possession above everything and everyone else. Where would we be today without the constant unfailing companionship of His faithful presence, wise and perfect guidance, merciful patience, comfort, and transforming reproof? What would we do without Him? I can’t even imagine!