“My son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over your; when you awake, they will speak to you.” –Proverbs 6:20-22
Our city government sponsors a “blue tag” program for area dogs. If a dog owner can prove that his or her dog is under voice and sight control—that is, that the dog will come when called under any circumstances—then the dog is allowed to be off-leash on city hiking trails. The dog must display a blue tag to show that it met the city’s requirements. Lexi doesn’t qualify for the blue tag program. Lexi stays on her leash. Most dog owners I know are desperate to let their dogs off-leash; they believe that a dog wants to be free, to sniff and explore, to roam up and down a trail at will. We humans crave such freedom ourselves. But Lexi’s leash isn’t a punishment; it is, in fact, a blessing. It helps me control her when she can’t control herself (and has saved a squirrel or two, I’m sure). It protects other dogs and people from Lexi’s overenthusiasm. It protects her from other aggressive dogs. It protects her from running into the street when a car is coming. The leash keeps Lexi safe. This is what the writer of Proverbs has in mind when he says “fasten [your father’s command and your mother’s teaching] around your neck.” So often we think of rules and customs as binding us, hindering us—and sometimes they do. But the commandments of our Heavenly Father are perfect and just. His commandments are meant to protect us from our worst impulses and to keep us safe. God’s commandments and Jesus’s teachings are given in love; in fact, Proverbs 3:3 advises each of us to “bind [love and faithfulness] around your neck.” That is truly what it means to abide God’s commandments. When we walk with God, we are bound to him in love.
Dear God, Bind me to you in love. Amen