For many of us, the word “obedience” conjures up negative emotions. We see the concept of obedience as oppressive, an attempt to stifle us into submission. When we think of obedience it’s almost always in reference to authority; parents, teachers, bosses, government. Perhaps this is why so often when we hear the word obedience in reference to our walk with God we get defensive and resistant. All of a sudden God becomes a tyrant expecting blind obedience versus a loving father asking his child to live according to His will.
What if I told you that obedience has less to do with rules and more to do with blessing? What if I told you that God asks us for obedience not because he wants to limit our enjoyment but because he wants us to experience more joy? You see, God doesn’t just ask for obedience because he wants to keep us from enjoying life, he asks us to obey him because he wants us to enjoy life more.
Look at what Moses tells the Israelites will happen in Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (NLT) if they keep the commandments of the Lord.
“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.”
The blessing for obedience was life in abundance. The blessing was protection. The blessing was being set apart. Deuteronomy 28 goes on to say that the consequence of disobedience was a curse upon the people for all the things they would have prospered in. God offers us a blueprint for blessing and yet still we so often resist thinking somehow we know best for our own life.
The greatest lesson I learned about obedience came after I had my son. Somehow the picture of God as my father became clear. I always had trouble relating to this image of God because my earthly father was not a good man. When I became a mother myself, however, I began to understand more clearly the connection between love and discipline and how it brings blessing. My two-year-old son is restricted to the boundaries I set for him. He pushes those boundaries quite often because his curiosity, defiance or desire to have something he wants gets the better of him. My son can’t understand why I won’t let him run into the street but I’m keenly aware of the danger and the boundary I’ve set is for his protection. If he chooses to ignore my warnings and disobey me the consequences could be devastating.
“The cost of obedience is small compared with the cost of disobedience.” + St. Augustine
Sometimes we choose disobedience because we don’t actually believe in the goodness of God. We’re happy where we are. We’re comfortable. If God asks us to act out in faith and do something we don’t like we may resist. Sometimes we eventually follow where God leads us, sometimes we eventually get our act together and obey, but that’s not true obedience.
Priscilla Shirer wrote,
“delayed obedience is disobedience.”
My son doesn’t always know what I have planned for him. He’s not yet to an age where he understands that what I have planned for the day is more exciting than the cars he’s playing with at the moment. So when I tell him that it’s time to get dressed it seems cruel, me pulling him away from his cars. I think to myself, “If you only knew we are on our way to the beach, or the park or Disney!!!” If you only knew what I have in store for you, you wouldn’t be resisting. You wouldn’t be fighting me. You wouldn’t disobey me.
How often must God think that of us? If you only knew the blessing that I have in store for you, you wouldn’t be resisting.
Perhaps the greatest blessing we’ll ever receive is to walk in community with our Heavenly Father. His spirit lives in us and if we’ll seek him and walk in obedience he will reveal himself to us more and more and we’ll experience the blessings that only he can pour out, blessings far greater than what we can see before us. If we only knew what he has in store…
To obey is to trust. My son over time has learned to obey me because he’s discovering that he can trust me. Mama knows best and she’s protecting him. And when my son obeys he’s able to experience all the goodness I have in store for him. Trust your Heavenly Father. He asks you to obey him because he knows it’s what is best for you and he has so much goodness in store for you.
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” + John 14:21
I’m a wife to an amazing husband and the mother of one boy. I attend First Baptist Church of Indian rocks. I teach Bible study on Wednesday afternoons. I am on the leadership committee for our monthly women’s ministry known as The Tribe. I teach Spanish during the summer to preschoolers. I love Jesus and I’m passionate about sharing my faith with others.