Bible Reading: Exodus 20: 1-17

I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands. Exodus 20:6

HERMAN THE CRAB stormed across the ocean floor and under the family rock. “I want to be free!” he screamed at his father. “I don’t see how you can expect me to wear this stupid shell twenty-four hours a day. It’s confining. It’s cramped.”

His father, Fred, placed a claw on Herman’s shoulder. “Son,” he said, “let me tell you a story about Harold the human.”

“Dad, not another-”

“Harold wanted to go barefoot to school,” Fred continued. “He complained that his shoes were too confining. He longed to be free to run barefoot through the grass. Finally, his mother gave in to him. He skipped out of the house-and stepped on the pieces of a broken soda bottle. His foot required twenty stitches.”

“That’s a dumb story, Dad,” Herman said.

“Maybe, Son, but the point is this: Every crab has felt life would be a lot better if he could be free of the shell. Well, your time will come soon.” The young crab looked surprised. “It’s called molting, and all crabs do it as they grow up. But when that hap­pens, you will be more vulnerable than at any other time in your life. Until your new shell hardens like this one”-he tapped his son’s armored back-“you have to be more careful and more watchful than usual. Without this shell, you’ll be less free-not more.”

“That’s weird, Dad,” Herman said. “Some things seem to limit freedom, but really they make greater freedom possible, right?”

Fred draped his claw over Herman’s back. “How did you get so smart, Son?”

Some people think the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus rob them of freedom. They see God’s rules as restrictions on their freedom, like Herman viewed his shell. Actually, though, God’s directions release true freedom in the lives of those who follow them. For example, obeying the sixth commandment, “Do not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), provides freedom from sexually transmitted diseases.

Because of the benefits God provides, you could just as easily call the Ten Com­mandments the Ten Freedoms. And Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:1-12 provides in­credible freedom if you respond to it. Obeying his words in Matthew 5:4, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” assures you freedom from be­ing alone when you are hurt. Or Matthew 5:8, “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God,” tells you that when you stick close to God, you will learn even more from him.

REFLECT: Do you sometimes feel a little confined and restricted as a Christian?

PRAY: Thank God today for the freedoms he provides for you in his Word.

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