Imagine playing a basketball game without any rules.
If you’ve closely watched a competitive match between rival high school teams, you might have noticed the occasional trip, jab, and elbow. What would it be like without a referee keeping order? After the chaos erupts, many players would probably walk off the court disgruntled and refusing to play the game.
In his article, “The Amazing Law: Part Two,” columnist Stephen Crotts, a Presbyterian pastor, examines the value of God’s Ten Commandments. He reflects on how some people might think a sports game might be more fun without so many rules. Then he asks, “I wonder when it comes to God’s law, do most of us feel the same way? We’d all enjoy our lives much more if we could do away with the rules.” Indeed, a basketball game without regulations—where people could trip, push, or even kick each other with impunity—would obviously not make the game more enjoyable.
Crotts explains that when God introduced His law, He began by saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2). In other words, God is saying, “I freed you, and now I give you these simple laws to keep you free.” The writer illustrates God’s law as a fence placed around our behaviors to keep the good things in life from getting out of control.
When discussing the Sabbath, Crotts shares how the Sabbath is to be “separated unto the Lord.” He then tells how he used to do laundry when going to college. Instead of separating his clothes into different piles of light and dark, he threw everything in the washer—jeans, tennis shoes, white shirts, red plaids. Of course, everything came out gray. “That’s what happens to life when we treat the Sabbath as just another day. We no longer keep it holy, separated unto God.” It becomes a dull day instead of a bright, crisp, clean day filled with the Lord’s presence.
Crotts makes an excellent argument for honoring God’s day in a way that sets aside the Sabbath as a time to worship and focus on the Lord and not on self. When we play by the rules, we’ll find more freedom in the Sabbath and it will truly be a “delight” (see Isaiah 58:13).