As Brandi wandered along the fence of her father’s paddock, she came across a group of cows stretching their necks through spaces between wires. Their nostrils twitched and their tongues grasped for withered shrubs on the outside.
“Why would they want this stuff when my father maintains his paddocks well.” Brandi voiced her thoughts. “He’s done everything to ensure that the grass inside is healthy and green.”
The cows didn’t care. They kept grasping at what was denied them for their own good.
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wonder whether or not something is “okay”?
- To read a book or watch that movie that’s less-than-glorifying to God
- To wear a skirt that’s shorter than usual for a special occasion
- To carefully structure your answer to a question so as to avoid the uncomfortable truth
At times like this, it’s easy to justify doing it:
- “It’s not like I’m going to live like the characters, myself.”
- “This is just one-off for a special occasion. I don’t wear it all the time.”
- “I’m not. Really – I’m not. Everything I said is true.”
This is where the illustration of the cows comes in. Brandi’s father has his cows’ best interests in mind and has marked out where can and cannot go.
The fence is for their own good.
Like Brandi’s father, God has our best interests in mind. He created the human race. He cares for us and He has shown us where we should and shouldn’t go. The Bible may seem like a restricting law book, but it’s actually for our own good.
NOTE: Obeying the law won’t save us from sin. It only shows us what it is and highlights our inability to live without it.
Test the boundaries or enjoy the green grass
When you face a decision similar to the three mentioned above, picture the cows at the edge of the fence. You’re exploring the boundaries of God’s design. You’re trying to figure out where “okay” ends and sin begins so you can get as close to the edge as you.
Whether Jesus has saved you or not, you may be so distracted by pushing the limits and trying to get away with as much as acceptable, that you’re missing out on the richness and beauty of God’s finest design.
Freedom from the law
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
The author of this verse, Paul, is addressing a particular church which was trying to be righteous by obeying the law. These people were already saved from their sins but they were so concerned about all the little rules that they enslaved themselves.
Paul was writing to tell them that this was wrong. Their righteousness came from Jesus alone. Obsessing over the law didn’t make them righteous; it simply deprived them of their freedom.
How can we keep God’s good commands without becoming enslaved to them?
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
What changes when a person becomes a child of God?
The fence will still be there, but He will work in your heart to give you a desire to live according to His design – a desire, not a burdensome, “woe-is-me” sense of duty. He will open your eyes to see how beautiful and desirable His ways are. Then you’ll want them, and it won’t be a matter of enslavement. You’ll no longer even be concerned with grazing near the fence or exploring the boundaries
for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
If you’re not a child of God, then you won’t be able to find that freedom to enjoy the green grass. You’ll be constantly aware of the fence and it will always seem binding. The invitation stands.
- Can you see – *really* see and truly believe – that the grass is greenest inside God’s design and purpose?
- Where are you on the pastures today?
- Why is it that what we can’t have tends to seem more attractive?
Resources for deeper digging
Psst! For more on:
- How to live lives that are pleasing to God without being enslaved to the law: Galatians 5 – the whole chapter is so good.
- The idea of exploring the boundaries of right vs. wrong: in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris expands on this idea in detail in chapter seven.