Jan. 12, 2021, Exodus 23:1-9
Our son is just starting to get to the age where he’s becoming more and more influenced by the kids around him at school. We’ll hear some new or interesting words coming from his mouth, or even hear about the way someone acted or treated a classmate at recess. As loving parents, we’re constantly reminding him, “You know, just because everyone else is doing something or acting that way, doesn’t mean it’s right.”
But that temptation doesn’t end when we leave school and grow up. The temptation to blend into the culture and prevailing ways of doing things follows us as adults as well. The truth is, it’s always easier to go with the crowd than stand out for what’s right.
That’s the dilemma facing God’s people in Exodus 23. Having been rescued by God from Egypt, and now learning to find their own identity, they’re struggling with a variety of moral dilemmas. As a good and loving father, what does God remind them? “You know, just because everyone else is doing something or acting that way, doesn’t mean it’s right.” Only this time it wasn’t bullies at recess, it was unjust treatment of the poor, loving your enemies, or oppressing foreigners. Things that matter deeply to the heart of God.
The reason God had to warn them against these things was because of the strong temptation to simply go along with the crowd and blend in with all the other pagan nations around them. But God says, “Not so with you Israel. You are my chosen people, which means you’re called to stick out for living differently than the world.” Thousands of years later, God’s heart for us is the same. Stick out. Be different. Not just to be different, but because you have a new identity - you are God’s chosen people! Any good and loving parent knows, our hearts for our children when it comes to laws is not to lay heavy or unnecessary burdens on them, but to set them free to live the best life possible. That was God’s heart for his kids then, and for us now.
Questions for reflection:
- When you look at the culture around you, what are the easiest places for you to fall into the temptation of simply “blending in” or “doing what everyone else is doing?”
- When it comes to rules or laws, how were they communicated in your family growing up? Burdensome, harsh, with anger, or in a kind and loving way? How might the way rules and regulations were addressed by your own parents impact the way you see God’s laws in Scripture?