Do you ever repeat the same thing over and over again? I remember trying to teach my young children with the same message repeated daily. I can’t even count the times I said things like “do your homework,” or “put your dishes in the dishwasher,” or “don’t leave your stuff laying on the floor.” The training felt more like a never-ending battle of wills. And more than once, they ended in tears or at least a few eye rolls as they screamed, “Don’t tell me what to do.” Training and discipline are not fun for kids and that thought does not improve as we age either. But it does teach us so that we learn as we grow.
We like the freedom to do things as we choose and we want to disregard any potential consequences from our actions. And, like my children in years past, we might stomp our feet and yell, “don’t tell me what to do.” Even in society today, we find people uttering messages like my body, my choice; or it’s okay, as long as I don’t hurt anyone else. Maybe this is part of the reason so many people turn away from church because they don’t like the idea of someone telling them what to do from the pulpit. They might believe in God, but they want to live life with no rules. But actions have consequences that impact others around us.
Like the TV commercials explain, God gets us. Even before He laid the foundation of the earth, God understood how we would think in the twenty-first century. Throughout the Bible, as God tells us how to live or act, He also explains to us the purpose of His instructions. God repeats the term, so that, as a way of helping us understand the Godly purpose for the directions. Let’s look at some examples.
- Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. Acts 3:19 (NIV). God calls us to repent so that our sins can be forgiven.
- Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Ephesians 6:11 (NIV). We take on the armor of living for God so that we can fight the enemy’s attacks.
- And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 2:28 (NIV). Live a Godly life so that we can inherit eternal life.
- Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12 (NIV). Honor your parents so that you live a long life.
- Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41 (NIV). Pray often so that you will not sin.
- I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 (NIV). Believe in God so that you find peace in this troubled world.
As my children grew up, I heard their repeated phrases too. “But mom,” became their common answer to my request, usually followed by something like, “I don’t want to,” or “I want to go play with my friends.” The word carried a very negative connotation, pleading for a changed chore and the usual eye roll. I disliked the word because of the way the kids used it in our household.
As I worked to deepen my faith walk, I came across someone who mentioned that they loved the buts in the Bible. I know, that sentences made me laugh too, but I think you know what I mean. I read on and found this quote:
“The word “but” in Scripture often introduces the message of the gracious and compassionate intervention of God. This simple term captures the nature of our God. He redeems, resurrects, and makes all things new. All seems lost and then we hear, “but God.” He intervenes. He saves.”https://www.jenoshman.com/jen-oshman-blog/2017/11/29/but-god-the-bibles-best-words
My entire attitude about the word changed as I sought the examples found in our Bibles. Here are a few of the ones I found (emphasis added by me):
- My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 (NIV).
- But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15 (NIV).
- Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26 (NIV).
- But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV).
- But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NIV).
[bctt tweet=”And for us Christians, we have both a “but God” and a “so that” life to lead. But God gave His life for us so that we may live our lives for Him.”]
But God So That
And for us Christians, we have both a “but God” and a “so that” life to lead. But God gave His life for us so that we may live our lives for Him. We are not saved so we can sit on the sidelines as we wait for our heavenly home. God saves us so we can proclaim the Good News to everyone around us. The next time you hear the phrase “don’t tell me what to do,” I hope you remember God has a purpose for His instructions for us and the rewards that come with following His guidance.
Dearest Heavenly Father. None of us enjoy changing how we live. So often, we want to stomp our feet and sulk. But God, you have a way to turn those moments into something special so that we serve your purpose. Be with us every day as we seek to walk closer to you. In Jesus’ most holy name. Amen.