Because He Said So

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, November 4, 2015 0 comments

by Logan Ames

I’m sure you remember when you were a child and your parents told you that you had to do something you didn’t want to do. If you were anything like me, you had no problem questioning their reason for making you do something you absolutely hated. You’d think that you have a right to understand their reasoning, and sometimes they’d decide to share it, especially once you were grown enough to understand. Other times, however, they’d simply say, “Because I said so.”

For me, that was usually the response I received when I wanted an explanation for having to eat certain foods or having to complete certain chores. As we got older, my brothers and I learned what it meant to negotiate but forgot that we didn’t really hold any of the bargaining chips. One time, my dad told my younger brother and I that we had to help him dig up a long strip of grass and dirt on the side of the house and replace the area with heavy stones. As we labored for hours, my brother suddenly said, “Hey dad, I forgot to tell you I charge $10 an hour." My dad almost immediately responded, “Well son, I forgot to tell you those three meals you had yesterday were $15 a piece!”

When you depend on someone for something, they usually get to determine the terms by which you will get it. Since children depend on their parents, the “because I said so” response is sufficient for almost any question. The parents can choose to provide more reasoning when they feel the child is mature enough to handle it, but otherwise it’s not necessary. When it comes to God, we must view him as the parent and ourselves as the dependent children. If he chooses to give us insight into his reasoning when he determines that would be helpful to us, we can be thankful. But if he chooses not to, we still must do what he says simply because he makes the rules. Why does he make the rules? I’d say it’s because there is something we need from him. If you think you need nothing from God, I intend to show you otherwise.

In Romans 13:8-10, Paul talks about the “debt” that we have to love one another and the fact that it is a debt that will never end. To whom do you believe this debt is owed? I can assure you that while the debt is to be paid directly to other people, it is owed to God alone. Truthfully, it’s common sense. When you are given something that requires payment, you owe the person who gave it to you. If you can’t pay what you owe, you are in debt. As believers, we know that God has given us the gift of salvation by faith and that our debt was paid by Jesus on the cross. But we must remember that our faith is not merely the kind that simply believes. As James says, “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). We are saved by faith alone, but the kind of faith that saves us is always accompanied by action. Therefore, we owe it to the Lord to continue loving one another until we are called home to be with him for all of eternity.

Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at what it means to love one another based on this week’s passage. In verse 9, Paul lists several of the laws that are part of the Ten Commandments and then says they are all summed up in the command, “Love your neighbor as yourself." Many believers will immediately point out that these words were spoken by Jesus in Matthew 22:39-40. But even Jesus was quoting them from the Old Testament. The original verse, Leviticus 19:18, actually gives us more context: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord." Wow! Now that’s a difficult debt to pay! It may have seemed easy when it was somewhat abstract or hypothetical, but now that we know where the verse comes from in the law, we actually have to love those who have hurt us. This might be where we would be those whiny children that would complain, “But why, God?” The answer is simply, “I am the Lord,” which is another way of saying, “Because I said so."

We must do as God commands because we are dependent on his mercy when what we truly deserve is his judgment. The apostle James also references the “love your neighbor as yourself” law in James 2:8. But later in that same passage, he declares, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” (James 2:12-13). In other words, loving others means to bear with them and to show them mercy, which is the opposite of holding a grudge or seeking revenge. If we choose to ignore this command and do not pay this “outstanding debt,” then what we have waiting for us when this life is over is “judgment without mercy." Let me tell you, friends, that if there is one thing you don’t ever want to receive from the Lord, it is judgment WITHOUT mercy. I tremble at even the thought of it.

We can’t claim to be followers of Jesus and not love others by showing them mercy, even when they have hurt us deeply. That’s what sets us apart from everyone else. The rest of the world who doesn’t know Jesus is already facing judgment without mercy. But we have accepted the sacrifice made by Jesus for us and must not think we have a right to judge others for every wrongdoing they commit against us, when God no longer treats us that way. The next time you think about holding a grudge against someone or looking for revenge, maybe you should stop and think about the sins you have committed against the Lord even within that very day! Chances are that you’d have a pretty stiff penalty for them if you had to face “judgment without mercy." And that’s only for one day in your life!

Moses, inspired by the Lord, tells us in Leviticus what it means to love our neighbors. Jesus and his brother James remind us of the importance of this Old Testament law and how it impacts our behavior as Christians. The apostle Paul then tells us in this week’s passage that it is connected to the only debt that we should ever allow to remain outstanding. If you want to know why we have to show mercy and love even when it’s hard, the answer that should suffice is that God has said so. Take some time this week to think about who you have had a hard time showing mercy, and then ask God to remind you of your debt and change your perspective.

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