Five Action Verbs Of The Christian Life.
“Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.” Deuteronomy 13:4
I always enjoy reading through Deuteronomy as it beautifully calls God’s people to obedience and promises blessings to those who answer the call. Though the Israelites rarely walked in faithful devotion to their God, God remained faithful to them, just as he does us.
Deuteronomy 13:4 clearly lays out God’s commands for believers. God uses five action verbs that believers should live out in their daily lives. When the believer lives these five words, they receive the blessing of a deep relationship with their Savior. In fact, these five commands show us God’s heart for His people. He desires to have an intimate relationship His people. Believers who follow these five commands choose intimacy with Christ, rather than intimacy with the world.
“Serve” is the first action word of Deuteronomy 13:4. Serving God is not an option. It’s a command. God calls all believers to serve Him and only Him all the days of our lives. As I’ve written before, my word for 2019 is “serve”. I’m asking the Lord to develop a servant’s spirit in me, so that I see the needs of others as more important than my own. My prayer is that I will be humbly submitted to the Lord, as was Mary, so that I can say, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Fearing God is not a popular concept in our society. People like to think of God as a gentle, loving, peaceful God who is more a best friend than God. It is true. He is gentle, loving, and peaceful, but He is also the just, holy and all-powerful judge who cannot tolerate sin. A healthy fear of God is vital to a maturing relationship with God. If we do not fear Him, we do not see Him for who He truly is. Our best deeds are merely filthy rags compared to the holiness of God. He is all-powerful and controls the entire universe. Our human minds cannot begin to comprehend that kind of power. Fearing God helps us see God as He truly is. When we see Him as He truly is, then we can respond with utter reverence and obedience.
Action word three is “obey.” When I think of obedience I often think of Abraham. The first time we see Abraham in scripture, he is obeying God. God came to Abraham, told him to leave his home country and move to a foreign land God would give him. Abraham didn’t even know where he was going! He simply knew God said go, so he obeyed. Wow! I cannot fathom that kind of obedience. So often I choose to be Jonah by running the opposite direction of where God said to go, rather than simply being obedient. Because Abraham chose to obey, he experienced an intimate relationship with God. God spoke to Abraham as he would talk to a friend and Abraham listened.
Listen. Such a simple word, yet it is such a difficult action. Running our mouths moping to God is far easier than taking the time to listen. Spelling out how we think God should run things is more convenient than listening to His plan. However, when we choose to talk more than we listen we are not only disobeying God, we are forgoing the wonderful privilege of knowing our Savior. That’s a privilege I don’t want to miss. So I pray that I will choose to “Be still [listen] and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10).
Sadly, I would rarely describe my posture as clung to God. In the trials, the seasons of waiting, and the times I desperately need answers, I draw closer to God. When the smooth times come and I’m settled in my comfort zone, I tend to distance myself from the Lord. I think I falsely believe I have everything under control. But God’s Deuteronomy 13:4 command doesn’t say, “cling to God when you most need His help.” It says, “cling to Him”. In the good times and the bad times, my prayer is that God will make me a deer. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1).
So much more can be said about each of these action words, therefore I want to break Deuteronomy 13:4 down further over the next several weeks. Next week, I will focus, yet again, on the word serve.