This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Devotion for Mar. 22, 2004

A little boy who had been given the part of a sheep in his school’s nativity play was asking others in the program about their roles. Coming to a little girl whose mother was helping her into her costume he asked, “I’m a sheep—what are you?” “I’m Mary,” she replied. With an air of solemnity, the boy declared: “It’s hard being a sheep, you know.” “Yes,” the little girl agreed. “But it’s also hard being a virgin.”

She could have been speaking for many of us. Whether our commitment is to abstinence as a single person or fidelity to our spouse as one who is married, it isn’t always easy being morally pure in today’s society. Impure practices are widely tolerated. They are a common feature in movies and on television. Advertising images frequently appeal to our sexual impulses to sell their products, and many implicitly endorse homosexuality. Instead of being seen as a covenant made for life, marriage is now widely regarded as a temporary social commitment that can be revoked at any time. Many people don’t see any need for marriage at all.

Today’s passage contains an assortment of commands whose purpose, in some cases, is not always easy to understand. The intent of the command to help a neighbor whose ox or donkey has fallen in the road is clear enough. So are the commands that protect a woman’s reputation from false accusations about her moral behavior. What, however, are we to make of the others? Why did God care if an Israelite took the mother bird along with the young from her nest? Why did He command His people not to wear clothes of wool and linen woven together or to plant two kinds of seed in a vineyard?

In general, these commands emphasize the truth that a community whose culture has been shaped by divine values will also respect the limits that God has set. Whether it involves the safety of others, the preservation of the environment, or sexual practice, God alone has the authority to set moral boundaries.

Apply the Word

Spend some time watching prime time television (or scan the channels). Note how many programs portray in a positive light those situations that violate biblical principles of morality and purity. As you do, consider whether your own values are shaped more by popular practice or biblical standards. Do you find the limits God has set too confining? Are there some you have deliberately ignored? If so, what steps will you need to take to bring these areas in line with God’s Word? Pray about what action you should take, and ask God for His strength to follow through on this commitment.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

Find Daily Devotionals by Month