Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reading the Instructions

Our company recently acquired some updated audio & video equipment. Along with these new toys came a small book of instructions. The first page began with a list of important bullet points. I found the first three to be humorous:

  • Read this instruction manual.
  • Keep this instruction manual.
  • Heed all the warnings and follow all instructions in this instruction manual.

The reason such an emphasis on the instruction manual exists is because people are prone to ignore instruction manuals. I know I am. When I receive a new piece of merchandise, the last thing I want to do is sit down and work through dozens of pages of directions. I’d prefer to figure how the item works on my own. Only if I get truly stuck do I see what the instructions have to say. Isn’t that why we have the phrase, “When all else fails, read the instructions”?

This attitude can affect our view of the Bible as well. We don’t read it as often as we should. We don’t keep the Bible close at hand—primarily by having it in our hearts (Ps. 119:11; Col. 3:16). When we do read the Bible, we often fail to heed it, like a person who sees his disheveled appearance in a mirror and then fails to clean himself up (Jas. 1:22-25).

The writers of instruction manuals know their product better than anyone else. And as our creator, God knows how the human frame works, as well as how it doesn’t work. God knows that we need Him more than anything else, and He is what the Scriptures continually point us to.

Of course, our ultimate instruction is to trust in Christ’s finished work, seeing as how we could never satisfy God’s justice with our own futile efforts. So, unlike all other instruction manuals, which depend entirely upon our adhering to them, the Bible tells us of a Savior who took the penalty we deserved for not adhering to God’s perfect standards.

Our instruction manual points us to the very Person who saves us from failing to follow those instructions. Therefore, we can remember that when we inevitably fail, we have an Advocate who stands in our place, offering His perfect obedience and substitutionary death in place of our failed obedience. Who wouldn’t want to read an instruction manual about that?

photo credit: @superamit via photopin cc

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