Are God’s Commands Meant to Make Us Miserable or Joyful?

Most people view God’s commands as His attempt to take all the fun out of life. But the more you study His instructions, and consider the pain associated with disobeying them, the more you realize that His commands are actually for our good.

When God provides instruction from His Word, He wants us to experience His best in our lives. To bite from the forbidden fruit was a defiant rebellion staking claim to divine authority. As finite beings, we do not know what is best for us. It takes someone outside of creation to help us understand what is good and holy.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17

For Adam and Eve to eat from the tree was a death wish. They chose independence and punishment over intimacy and protection. While this first couple had one command, God has given us many more.

  • We have the Ten Commandments that deal with our relationship with God and one another.
  • We know the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
  • Scripture is precise concerning the type of thoughts we should have, the kind of words we should say, and the standard of behavior we should display. 

In the Bible, God has given us tested principles and practical instructions regarding how we ought to live our lives. While we tend to think of God’s commands as burdensome, they are provided to be beneficial. We know the painful consequences of disobedience, but we often find ourselves as repeat offenders.

As we grasp the Law’s standards, we also encounter Jesus’ heart behind the commands. It’s not only actions He forbids, but it is attitudes that He warns us about keeping. 

Why does God command us not to murder?

He knows the damage that unchallenged anger does to our lives and others. If you allow rage to consume you, living in the peace that God desires for your life is near impossible. Anger festers into hate. Hate leads to retaliation. Retaliation escalates hostility. Hostility will eventually lead to murder. To take a life puts you in the position of God deciding who deserves to live and die. It also robs the breath of one made in the image of God. The act also causes the murderer to live in fear for the rest of one’s days, awaiting revenge. Looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life is not living.

Why does God command us not to commit adultery?

He knows that working for a flourishing marriage with one person is challenging enough that you don’t need another individual to complicate the process. An emotional connection or sexual tryst with another person might seem adventuresome, but it is dangerous. A momentary sensation with someone other than your spouse is not worth the lifelong pain it will bring to numerous people. God’s commands to stay emotionally and sexually exclusive is a wise and gracious instruction.

Why does God command us to refrain from stealing?

He knows the importance of us getting a job and grinding it out consistently to provide resources for our family. Using the gifts He gave us for the betterment of society and the provision for a family is an honorable pursuit. We don’t need to steal because God provides, and we ought to work. 

Why does God tell us to love Him supremely and love others intentionally?

He knows that we require pure motives to stay faithful in challenging times. Loving God above all else means that we can love everything else better. Loving others how we desire to be loved rescues us from the quest to make this life all about us. 

There are plenty of other commands we could study, but you hopefully get the point. God providing instructions for us is the kindest thing He can do for us. It saves us from endless squabbling among mere mortals to elevate us to a higher standard for truth. We are not meant to wander through life wondering what we ought to do; God has provided us with wisdom we should embrace and embody.

He has done His part; will we do ours?