The First Facet of loving God that we will look at is what I will call the “Bullet-Point Commandments.” These are the laws that are simple, easy-to-understand do’s and don’ts. Things like “Do not steal,” “Honor the Sabbath,” and “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.” These are straightforward, easily understood commandments that apply to everyone, in every situation.
These “Bullet-Point Commandments” are not necessarily easier to obey than others- they’re just easier to understand, more straightforward in their meaning. Obeying these commands is a big part of loving God. And as simple as they can sound, they can be some of the most difficult to follow. Corrie Ten Boom once said “Don’t worry about what you do not understand. Worry about what you do understand in the Bible but do not live by.” You can’t waste time worrying about all the deep, complex things in Scripture that God has not yet revealed to you. God reveals things to his people over time. Rather than worrying that we might be failing in some obscure area we don’t understand, we should be focusing on following the commands that we do understand, but aren’t fully living out.
It’s often the most obvious commands that end up going way off our radar. We think that we’re past all those things, and try to comprehend deeper things, and meanwhile we are failing in the simplest of commands!
It’s in the simple, seemingly obvious commands that we so often stumble. For example, if you see that your buddy has more chips than he can eat on that plate of his, you just might stealthily take a sample or two… or three… or 14 ½…
See what I mean? Now, your friend may not mind (Or maybe he will!); but it’s only downhill from there. Maybe next time, you think that chocolate cake in his fridge looks really good… and he’d never notice… OK, so maybe he would…
Little things can cause big problems. Plus, disobeying these “Bullet-point Commandments” can be easier than we think. For example, I’m sure you don’t plan to commit adultery. However, Jesus said, “Whoever looks at a woman with lustful intent has committed adultery with her in his heart.” This means, literally, “with the intention of lusting after her.” You don’t even have to lust- you just have to be intending to lust! (Obviously, this applies to women as well. Bullet-Point Commandments apply to everyone!) And Jesus also said that even just hating someone, even for a moment, is killing them in spirit.
See what I mean? These “simple” commandments can be some of the most difficult! We all have “little” things that we struggle with. We all have “pet sins” that we simply can’t shake. And a lot of the time, we find that these are Bullet-Point Commandments!
But there is a way to overcome these things. Remember, we want to follow these commandments because we want to truly agape-love God. So it’s all about our motivation! Especially with Bullet-Point Commandments, we need to remember that our desire to follow them should stem from our love of God. Because if we treat these laws in a “religious” sense, we will stumble. If we see them as a bunch of old-fashioned, restrictive rules, then we will always begin to fall away from them at some point.
Instead, when we look at these commandments, we should see God’s love for us. God knew that it was going to be difficult for us to know how to love Him. And so he provided us with these commandments to show us how, to give us a place to start. They are an instruction manual for loving God. When we don’t know what to do, when we can figure out how to show Him how much we love Him, we simply have to look at these commandments. I can guarantee that there will be something on the list that you struggle with. Simply read the Ten Commandments. Something there will stand out to you- probably more than one thing. Though you probably aren’t struggling with murder or stealing, what about lying? What about coveting? Do you disrespect your parents or place other things (like money or friends) before God? All of these things are found within the Ten Commandments. If you want to truly love God, you simply need to examine yourself for faults, starting with the Ten Commandments, and pray that God will help you to overcome these things. Then, give God all you’ve got- if you truly want to love Him, you need to allow Him to prune you. Sometimes it’s painful, but God wants to remove those things in our lives that separate us from Him. And if we allow God to cut away those sins that enslave us and replace them with His love, we will experience true joy- and we will be truly loving Him.