The Rules

Posted by Jim Murphy on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 @ 1:18 PM

To many, Christianity is about following a set of rules. And if you asked them “Why?” they would point to a single source—the Bible. Specifically, they would probably mention the Ten Commandments. But what most people miss is the whole context for that list. God established a relationship with the Israelites long before He even gave them the rules. He wanted them to know they were His people.


TRUTH: God wants a good relationship with you.
REALITY: We do things that mess up that relationship.


Exodus 20:1 (1-17) “I AM the Lord your God.”


Following the rules will never make God love us more. In fact, when you try to live them out, you begin to see just how much you need Him. With God, the relationship always comes before the rules. Always. That’s why he starts the 10 Commandments with “I AM the Lord your God.” It was to establish that He has a relationship with them, first. Then the rules were made to protect that relationship.

  1. Relationship First– Rules are never the starting point for a relationship with your heavenly Father. They never come first. If God gives you rules to follow, it’s because you’re already in—you already have the relationship. God knows that rules without a relationship always results in rebellion. It’s human nature and God knows that; He created human nature. He’s not so foolish as to say, “Here’s a bunch of rules. Do the best you can to follow them and I’ll decide, based on that, if I accept you or not.” Relationships just don’t work like that.
  2. Rules Second – The commandments are not conditions of God’s love; the commandments are confirmation of God’s love.” Because relationship always precedes rules with God. And the biggest thing to God came before the Ten Commandments, back when they were in Egypt. When God initiated this relationship, the number one thing for Him was simply, “Will you trust Me?”
  3. Rules Protect the Relationship – In any valuable relationship there are certain rules you have to follow. There are rules that protect a friendship. There are rules that protect a marriage. There are rules that protect a team. The relationship is the important thing but the rules help keep it important and keep it working.

HOPE: Following the rules protects your relationship with God.


  1. Would you describe yourself as a rule-follower, a rebel, or somewhere in between?
  2. Who are some people that give you rules? Why do they give you rules?
  3. Can you name all ten of the commandments?
  4. To whom did God initially give the Ten Commandments? In your own words, briefly explain the history of the Israelites.
  5. How did hearing that history today change the way you once viewed the Ten Commandments?


Parents, I'd encourage you to ask yourself, "What more important to me? The rules or the relationship?" We'd all answer that question with "the relationship." But are you demonstrating that priority? Do you spend more energy getting your teen to follow the rules or more energy building a relationship with him or her? Do everything you can to build and keep your relationship with your teen. Then, establish household rules based on the value they have in protecting your relationship as opposed to simply "being good." When your teen breaks the rule, ask him or her how this impacts your relationship (e.g., breaking curfew breaks trust, etc.). Try having as many conversations about rules be rooted in the value they bring to protecting your family's relationship.

The content of this post is based on curriculum provided by Orange: XP3.

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These posts are from the weekly lessons at Wednesday night FUEL. They are designed to share with you an outline of the content of our discussions, the small group questions, and ideas for conversations at home. Feel free to use these for your own conversations or lessons.

Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy, Associate Pastor, NextGen MinistriesAssociate Pastor NextGen Ministries

218-751-3699 ext 14



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