One morning while we were waiting for breakfast, Stan said, “You know, Ricky, Cook, and the rest of the staff here do a fabulous job. Good food, great service, everything’s great.”
“It is,” I replied, “but why do you mention that?”
“I was thinking about obedience,” Stan said.
“Obedience?” I replied. “What’s obedience have to do with the staff and having breakfast?”
“Let me give you an example,” Stan said. “Picture this. Can you imagine how long this place would stay in business if, after about 45 minutes or an hour, I ask Ricky when our breakfast is going to be ready. What if I asked him that and his response was something like, ‘I haven’t put in the order yet, but I will’. How long would this place be in business? How long would Ricky have a job?”
“Probably not very long,” I responded.
“I think you’re right,” Stan said. “Here’s the same question from a different perspective. How deep do you think my relationship with God is going to get if, when He asks ,‘Have you obeyed yet?’ my response is something like, ‘I haven’t yet, but I’m going to do so pretty soon.’?”
“Same sort of answer,” I replied. “Not very deep.”
“Exactly, my friend,” Stan said. “God wants my obedience. Period. Saying that I’m going to obey is not the same thing as obeying.”
Continuing, he added, “The only thing that satisfies God’s desire for my obedience is my obedience.”
“And what do you think gets in the way of a person’s obedience?” I asked.
“I can answer that best,” Stan replied, “by looking at the person I know best, and it’s usually about loving myself more than I love God. Or it’s about loving what I’m doing apart from God more that I love being obedient to what God wants.”
“So,” I said, “it’s all about love? Is that it?”
“Seems to me,” Stan replied, “that’s pretty much what Jesus meant when He said that if I love Him I will obey Him. I think He wants me to recognize and know that saying I will obey Him is not the same thing as obeying Him. He wants me to call that what it is: disobedience!”
Bible verses to consider:
If you love Me, you will keep my commandments. John 14:15.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him. John 14:21.
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. John 14:23.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. John 15:10.
To one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for making it clear through your word and through your voice what it is you want and expect of me in terms of my obedience. I confess that way too often I do not obey you even though I say that I will. Please forgive the foolishness of thinking that saying I will obey satisfies your desire for my obedience. Help me follow every step of your lead in obeying all you have for me to obey, as well as obeying out of my love for you, not out of some sense of legalistic obligation. Please, Father, draw me ever closer to you so my obedience expresses my love for you just as you intend. Thank you that I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Jesus went to the cross in obedience to His Father so that all who believe will be able to spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time. Have you accepted what Jesus did through His obedience? If no, why? What’s standing in the way of accepting God’s free and gracious provision? If you are a Christian with the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with obeying on this side of eternity while you wait for the train? Are there times when you think that saying you will obey is the same thing as obeying? If so, what’s that all about? If you sense the need for any change in how and when you obey God, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why ore why not?