Bible Reading: Psalm 19:7-11

There is great reward for those who obey [the laws of the Lord]. Psalm 19:11

You waited all year long for the note from the school office saying it was your turn to serve on the student discipline committee. Your new job for the last two weeks of the school year, you figure, is to help the principal and teachers hunt down the bad guys and hand out punishments. You’re ready to bring down the hammer of justice on your school’s bad dudes. With you on duty, if they did the crime, they’ll do the time.

You dig through the school rule book, memorizing each and every regulation. “Rule number 802, point 11-B,” you read. “Students in the lunchroom may not talk louder than in a normal conversational voice.” You stop chewing your liverwurst sandwich and eyeball your peers. At this very instant your entire class is breaking that rule. You could expel them all. Busted!

But when you finally meet with the principal and teachers, you find they’re really most interested in finding ways to get students to do right, not just nail them for doing wrong. You thought the rules were all about catching kids being bad. Sur­prisingly, you find they’re more about the great rewards for people who act good.

Talk about this: Why are there rules in life?

Here’s some good news about rules: Rules don’t just punish bad people; they protect and provide for good people. When we live within the right boundaries, we gain things like freedom, safety, possessions, and other highly prized outcomes.

God’s law isn’t just a rule book jammed full of reasons to send people to the slammer. Rules, regulations, and consequences aren’t the only things we need to know about God’s law, because the law isn’t just about “thou shalt” do this and “thou shalt not” do that.

Sure, we have to know where God’s boundaries are. Psalm 19:11 says that God’s laws serve as “a warning to those who hear them.” But the next phrase paints the rest of the picture: “There is great reward for those who obey them.” Warnings reward us with God’s protection and provision — things like peace with God, healthy relation­ships with others, and eternal life.

The goal of God’s Word isn’t to hurt us but to help grow us up to be God’s happy followers. God isn’t out to catch us doing something wrong but to coach us in doing what’s right. He loves us so much he wants us to enjoy the rewards of living within his law.

TALK: Isn’t God great for giving us his Word, not to hammer us but to heal us? What good do God’s rules do us?

PRAY: God, thanks for all the good reasons you give us your commands. Thank you that your rules protect and provide for us.

ACT: When you want to wiggle out from under a rule today, write down the rule. Then write down three good reasons that rule exists.

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