Why Does God Command Us?

It is so tempting to think that Christianity (and God himself) is all about rules. That God is just the high and mighty authoritative Being who simply wants us to do certain things and doesn’t want us to do other things.

But when we read the Bible, it actually becomes clear that this isn’t the God of the Bible. This isn’t Christianity at all. God is supreme, majestic, and ruling over all. But it isn’t God’s heart at all just to give us rules because he just wants to control us.

The Designer Knows How We Work

Rather, the Bible makes it clear right away that he is the Creator and Designer of all that we are. We were made in his image, meaning, he knows what we’re like since he made us like himself (Genesis 1:27). He therefore of course knows really well how we work (better than we do!).

And as experience and the Bible both show, our hearts—what we love, care for, desire, delight in, hate—are what really make us who we are. Our internal desires, fears, and loves fuel all else. This is how we work. Our hearts lead us to act in certain ways. And on the flip side, certain things we do actually change our hearts—for better or worse.

Once this is all realized, it makes more sense why God commands what he does. It is because of this—that God knows that we are fueled by what we are inside—that God often gives us rules and instruction. After all, the word “law” in the Bible (which is so frequently taken to be a law from a harsh taskmaster) really only means “instruction”. God the Creator and Designer knows how we work, he loves us and cares about our hearts, and so he tells us what is best for us. He is guiding our hearts and loves, not merely or mainly just telling us what to do externally and what not to do. He loves us and wants what is best for us, which not only is best for us, but then also brings him the most praise.

A Positive View of God

Much more could be said about this, but I encourage you simply to rest in the fact that God commands because he truly loves. In what is known as the Parable of the Talents, Jesus speaks about how some people view God as a harsh taskmaster. One of his main points in the story is that this view of God is not only incorrect, but that it is unfruitful. And since it is not what God is like, it is unpleasing to him (Matthew 25:25-26).

God does command us, but he does so “for our good always” (Deuteronomy 6:24). This does not mean there aren’t right and wrong in the world. There most certainly are, and God is the source of all right and wrong. But it beautifully is true that what is ‘right’ is also how God designed us to most flourish individually and in the world.

Thinking Differently for Your Own Joy

So next time you’re struggling with a command of God, or when you honestly are annoyed that he commanded something (don’t we all get feel that from time to time?), I encourage you to think: “He loves me. He is right now caring about my heart. He knows what is best. And that is why he has this commandment.”

This thought has helped me immensely. And it’ll help you see God more as he is. Not as a harsh, authoritarian taskmaster, but rather as a gracious Father who cares for his children. A Father who desires you and me to have joy, and not brute, dutiful obedience.

When we start to think like this, it is then that we can approach his commandments always with a smile, and agree with the Bible that “his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).