Not long ago I was in a buffet line at a women’s breakfast. I noticed the woman next to me taking only a few raspberries when there was an entire spread of egg dishes, pastries and other tempting items spread across the table.
“Are you on a restrictive diet?” I asked, feeling sorry for her. Her reply surprised me.
“I prefer not to think of it as a restrictive diet,” she said cheerfully. “I just eat what is supportive to my body.” I later learned that she had discovered certain foods had an adverse impact on her health, and she was willing to forgo foods that she knew would hurt her.
I thought about how this is a good analogy to the effect of God’s Word on our lives; it is supportive to our souls. Deuteronomy 6:24 says, “And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.”
Temptation to stray
I was recently studying the story of Gideon in the book of Judges. I was surprised to read that Gideon’s family worshiped both God and Baal. Since the time when Joshua led Israel into Canaan, the people had allowed idolatry and the culture to influence their daily practices.
They had done evil in the sight of the Lord, and as a result, their enemies had overtaken them. Not following God’s command to drive out their enemies and worship Him alone had led to a cycle of sin, bondage and fear.
You and I may be tempted to think of God’s commands as restrictive. Like that woman who couldn’t eat everything on the table, following God’s ways can feel like a sacrifice. We may fear missing out on all the pleasurable experiences life has to offer (especially when those around us are freely partaking). But that’s the wrong way to look at it.
Like the woman choosing raspberries at the buffet line, choosing to follow God’s commands is life-giving and supportive to our souls. In some cases, His laws preserve our physical lives, but they always enrich our spiritual lives.
Here is a practical example: Choosing to have sex before marriage is widely acceptable in our culture — even among some Christians. But Scripture is clear that sex is meant for a man and woman who have entered into the covenant relationship of marriage. I talked about this in the article, “Why ‘Living in Sin’ is No Laughing Matter:”
I admit, God’s take on human sexuality can seem restrictive. We live in a sexually permissive culture where reserving sex for marriage can feel unrealistic or even impossible. But it is not only possible, it is beneficial. Saving sex for marriage is part of God’s good plan for His children to experience freedom, joy and peace. Along with the many spiritual benefits of obedience, studies show that marriages experience benefits when couples wait to have sex.
Studies show that relationship stability, quality of sex, relationship satisfaction and communication all go up when a couple waits until marriage to have sex. Research supports God’s ways. Instead of feeling deprived when we obey what God says in His Word, we should feel encouraged that we are choosing what is best for us physically, emotionally and spiritually.
God’s ways are good for us. Keep in mind that His commands may seem out of place in a culture that is confused about what brings true satisfaction and happiness. We may look like that woman choosing the raspberries when other delicacies are equally available. Others may even feel sorry for us. But we never need to wonder if it’s worth it to follow God’s commands.
If you need further proof of this, check out Jesus’ words in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
The ways of the Lord give life. Obeying God’s Word isn’t the path of least resistance, and it isn’t easy. But as I follow Jesus, I’m not giving something up; I’m choosing to pursue those things which cause my soul to thrive.
Copyright Suzanne Hadley Gosselin 2021. All Rights Reserved.