“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.” (NIV)
We live in a world of instructions. Practically everything that can be purchased comes with a set of instructions. Even boxes and cans of food quite often include instructions on how to utilize the product in some new recipe. Instructions are a vital part of our daily lives and influence us more than we realize. It is important to follow instructions for at least three reasons.
First, following instructions frees us from frustration. How many times has a daddy gotten in a hurry on Christmas Eve, trying to assemble bicycles, doll houses, and other assorted items without reading the instructions only to find that he should have inserted Tab A in Slot B before cutting along dotted line C.
It is easy to be overcome by overconfidence when it comes to assembling children’s toys, thinking that we can do it by ignoring the instructions and simply looking at the picture on the box. After all, who has time to read all of that fine print and count to make sure that the package includes the right number of nuts, bolts, and thing-a-majigs. Ignoring the instructions inevitably leads to some very frustrating moments.
Ignoring God’s instructions for our lives will also lead to some very frustrating moments. How often we think that we have life all figured out. How often we think that we can handle life’s vicissitudes on the strength of our understanding alone. How often we fail to see the bigger picture and get completely frustrated with life, people, and ourselves.
Ignoring God’s instructions as found in His Word will eventually lead to frustration. Proverbs 13:13 states, “He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded” (NIV). We need divine perspective more than we realize.
Second, following instructions delivers us from danger. There is a tag on the cord of my electric hair dryer that reads, “Danger–Electrocution possible if used or dropped in tub.” There is a warning stamped on the plastic bag that covers my dry cleaned garments that states, “Warning: To avoid danger of suffocation, keep away from babies and children. Do not use in cribs, beds, carriages, or playpens. This is not a toy.”
Our streets are dotted with instructions at the end of long metal poles: “Stop … Do Not Enter … One Way … Slow—Children At Play.” We simply cannot escape instructions, regardless of where we go. Quite often, instructions are posted to keep us from endangering our lives and the lives of others. When these instructions are neglected tragedy is often the result.
God’s Word is filled with instruction that warns us of danger. There are many negative commands in the Word of God, the “Thou shalt not…” passages. Rather than seeing God’s negative commands in a negative light however, we ought to see them as being doubly positive.
Josh McDowell once pointed out that behind every negative command stand the two positive principles of protection and provision. When God says “No” it is because He wants to protect us from danger and provide something better for us.
It would benefit us greatly to willingly follow God’s instructions lest we put ourselves and others in danger. We would be wise to heed the advise of Proverbs 4:13, “Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life” (NIV).
Third, following instructions enhances our enjoyment. When we follow the instructions that come with a purchased product, our enjoyment of that product is enhanced. We enjoy using the product and more than likely will discover that the product will last longer when used properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
So it is with our lives. We will enjoy life more when we purpose to live our lives in accordance with our Maker’s instructions. In some cases we can expect to live longer when we follow our Maker’s instructions because we will avoid paths, habits, and relationships that might endanger and even end our lives prematurely. The writer of Proverbs was right in stating, “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers.”