The topic of obedience has been on my mind alot recently. Perhaps that’s because I just spent more than a week addressing it in the Bible study I’m writing. Or perhaps it’s because of the faith journey Gene and I are walking now as we prepare to live aboard a sailboat. Regardless, it’s a topic that deserves much more than a short blog post or even a week-long Bible study. The more I read about it in the Word, the more I realize how vital it is to those who follow Jesus.
Paul was addressing believers in Philippi when he wrote, “Dearest friends, you were always so careful to follow my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:12-13 NLT).
I fear that sometimes we fall short of obeying God with deep reverence and fear. Sometimes we obey half-heartedly, like a child who’s been told to eat his veggies. “Aw, do I have to?”
We might play a game of pick-and-choose. We read God’s commands in the Word, or we sense His Holy Spirit nudging us to change a behavior, speak a word of encouragement to a neighbor, or demonstrate love to a prickly person. Some of those commands resonate with us; others not so much. Obeying them might prove inconvenient, or humbling, or scary. And so we pick-and-choose the ones that fit our schedule or suit our fancy.
We may even turn a deaf ear. You know—selective hearing.
But God being who He is—all-wise, all-powerful, ever-present, holy, loving, and more—deserves our enthusiastic obedience in all things. He’s worthy of our unconditional, “Yes, Sir!”
I find huge encouragement in knowing that God not only tells us what to do, but He also gives us the desire to obey Him. Then He takes it a step further and empowers us to do it. If we have no desire to do what He says, or we say that His commands are too difficult, then we need to invite the Holy Spirit to do a makeover in our thinking. God has our best interest in mind, so anything He asks us to do is for our good. Not doing what He says would be to invite personal hurt.
Elisabeth Elliot said, “God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.”
I couldn’t agree more. Obeying the Lord might feel really difficult at times, but He deserves our reverent, immediate, and wholehearted yes because of who He is.
What has God been speaking to you that requires your obedience?