I feel like the last few posts have been influenced by the events of the world around me. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, today I feel prompted to return to one of the more fundamental principles of the gospel: obedience.
In a world of self-actualization, self-serving, fast food, fast cars, and “have it your way“, one might be tempted to ask why obedience matters at all. Especially obedience to anyone or anything besides our own desires. Christ taught his disciples “If ye love me, keep my commandments…He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15, 21). Now, this does presuppose that a person has a desire to love Christ and be loved by Him and God the Father.
One of the great stories about obedience from the scriptures is that of Daniel and his 3 friends (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah). When they were young men, they were taken from their homes and put in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. While there, the King fed them his best food meat and his best wine. Daniel and his friends though, were desirous to be obedient to the word of the Lord. He requested they be given pulse, which is generally accepted to be grains, seeds, and vegetables.
After ten days, these four young men were stood beside the Chaldeans. Because of Daniel’s obedience to God’s health code, they were blessed with skin that was fatter and fairer than those who ate the kings meat and drank the kings wine. (Daniel 1).
I’m not suggesting that we should follow the same diet, rather, this story teaches us that obedience to the commandments of God will bring blessings. It also teaches us that it’s not always going to be easy to be obedient. Daniel and his friends were young men in the Court of a foreign king and they had to stand up for their beliefs. Sometimes it’s tough sticking up for your beliefs, but the Lord will bless you when you are obedient.
A key factor in being obedient is first being knowledgeable. It is impossible for a person to obey commandments, laws, and rules that they do not know about. Imagine driving down a road and getting pulled over by the police for speeding, yet there were no speed limit signs on the road. So it is with the commandments of God. We must first learn the commandments, then we can better obey them. Stephen R. Covey shares a similar principle in his Fifth Habit of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We must first learn the commandments through diligent study of the word of God.
We should be obedient with our whole being. In Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians, he says, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” In other words, it’s not enough to simply obey with your words…to obey with a grudging heart. In order to truly be obedient to God’s Word, you need to be all in. You need to be committed to obedience. Then you will receive the blessing of the Lord.
Let me get specific. What do I want my children to be obedient to?
- The Rules of the House. The Fifth Commandment is: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” By learning to first obey the rules of the home, I believe children will have a better chance of becoming citizens that are able to obey the rules of the land.
- The Laws of the Land. The Twelfth Article of Faith states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” We have an obligation to be obedient to the laws and rules passed by our leaders. At the same time, I believe we have an obligation to influence those laws and rules for the better. We must be active participants to try and get honorable, wholesome, and meaningful laws passed. If there are laws we disagree with, we should do everything we can to get them changed.
- The Commandments of God. Jesus was asked by a young lawyer which of the commandments was the greatest. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36–40). There are many commandments to obey, but the first and greatest is to love the Lord and to love our neighbor. How can we love our neighbor when we are constantly speaking ill of them? There is a disease afflicting society today…a disease called digitalis-anonymititus (yes, I just made that up). It is the belief that it’s ok to say anything we want from behind our computer keyboard. We mustn’t forget who our neighbor is:
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Obedience to the commandments brings blessings from the Lord. These blessings bring increased happiness and a desire to obey the Lord. It is a never-ending circle that leads to peace in this life and an eternity of joy with our Father in Heaven. Don’t give in to society’s teachings that we need only obey those laws and commandments that we want to. Obey the Lord with exactness. Obey the laws of the land (and work to change them when they are wrong). Obey your parents and others who have stewardship over you.