Deuteronomy 13:4, says, “Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him.” The action word I’m focusing on today is “obey”. Let’s take a deeper look at what it means to obey His commands.
As a mother of toddlers “obey” is one of my most frequently used vocabulary words. Whether or not they choose to hold to that word varies, but they hear it often. I’ve explained to them why I must teach them to obey. I tell them that when they obey Mommy and Daddy they are obeying God, because God tells children to obey their parents. God loves us and is incredibly worthy of our obedience.
Not only have I tried to teach them the “why” of obedience, but also the “how”. If you ask Ella Jane “How do you obey?” she says, “Right away, the right way with a joyful heart.” I can’t take credit for that phrase as I stole it from a mom in a Facebook mom’s group. I do believe it succinctly states the manner in which all believers are supposed to respond to our Heavenly Father and the authorities He puts over us.
Obey Right Away
“And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately, they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20 emphasis mine)
Ella Jane, like her momma, struggles with obeying right away. She wants to do her own thing first, then do what momma told her to do. The problem is that many times what I’m telling her to do is for her own protection. For instance, if she is precariously balanced on a chair, I tell her to get down. Often times she wants to get whatever she is trying to reach before she obeys, but if she continues to teeter on the chair she will fall.
Our Heavenly Father has infinite wisdom and foresight. He wants to protect us from inevitable harm and direct us towards immeasurable blessing. When we choose not to obey Him right away we place ourselves in precarious situations.
Instead of resisting obedience, we should follow the example of Peter and Andrew and obey immediately. Obedience always means giving something up. For Peter and Andrew it was their livelihood. For me, it is often my grip on control or my comfort zone. Whatever God is calling you to leave behind, do it immediately! Don’t place yourself in a precarious situation away from the blessing of God. Immediate obedience is always worthwhile.
Obey the Right Way
“But when they came to threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the Lord against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.” (2 Samuel 6:6-7)
The ark of covenant was joyfully being returned to the Israelites. However, the time of celebration quickly turned sour because of disobedience. The ark was not being carried “the right way”. In Exodus 25 God commanded that the ark could only be carried with long poles by a certain group of Levites. The Israelites in 2 Samuel 6 thought their way was better than God’s way and decided to put the ark on an ox cart. When the oxen stumbled Uzzah acted to save the ark and touched it. Numbers 4:15 explains that even those who were designated to carry the ark where forbidden to touch it. Disobedience cost Uzzah his life.
Uzzah and the other Israelites might have had good intentions, but they did not obey the right way. They believed their ideas were better than God’s. Whether they were prioritizing efficiency, ease or extravagance, they were not prioritizing obedience.
In my own life I often try to obey God my own way. If God asks me to offer an encouragement to a friend, I say I’d rather say this. Partial obedience is disobedience. I cannot obey God halfway because He demands my full affection.
Obey With a Joyful Heart
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Philippians 2:14-15)
Clara struggles with obeying with a joyful heart. She is passionate and feels emotions strongly. When she is joyful she is incredibly joyful, but when she is angry she is intensely angry. If she doesn’t want to do something, it is overwhelmingly obvious in her attitude. I wish I could say I don’t know where her dislike for obedience comes from, but I take responsibility.
When the Lord asks me to do something, more often than not, I complain the whole time. Before I start complaining I argue with Him, telling Him why I’m inadequate for the job. Not only is my lack of joyful obedience a poor example to my children, it’s a poor example to the world in which I’m called to be a light. Our faith is not attractive to this “crooked and perverse” generation when our attitudes communicate we would rather be doing anything but obeying God. I’m praying that God gives me the strength to choose a joyful heart of obedience, even when I prefer to argue and complain. The joy Christ offers as a result of obedience is always worthwhile.