The Fruits of Obedience

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Obedience: “compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another’s authority.”

We expect our children to be obedient and hope that our requests are helpful in guiding them through life.   As teachers, we have to have obedience in order to conduct a class in some reasonable, effective pedagogical manner.   As citizens, we are all expected to be obedient to the laws of the land so we can live together in some form of civilized order.

As Christians, God expects us to be obedient to His commands. After all, He is our sovereign Lord.

As a parent, I know what obedience from my child means to me and as a teacher [thirty-six years] I know that obedience from students is greatly appreciated [for the learning environment in the classroom].   Every day we hear of people who break the law; some get punished and some do not.   However, if you are a victim of a crime the whole experience is upsetting. The vast majority of us really wish people would follow the law.

We know what obedience means to us, but what does our obedience to God mean?

First of all, obedience demonstrates to God that we love Him. Most of us probably think that praise and worship is the best way to demonstrate love to God but in John 14 it says “If you love me, you will obey what I command….If anyone loves Me he will obey my teaching….He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me.”   For many of us, obeying God is avoiding the temptation to sin. John Piper, author of the book Desiring God, says about this demonstration of love, “The power of love for God overpowers the love for sin.” Obedience leads to a freedom that one experiences.   Sin can be a prison but obeying God can set you free from sin.

Secondly, obedience proves to the world that we are God’s children. We all observe others.   That is the most important way that a non-Christian can see the difference that a love for God can make. Matthew 5:16 says “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”   A Christian cliché that is so often used is very true.   “You are the only Bible that a non-Christian will ever see.”   Your behavior in life’s circumstances speaks volumes. If God is number one in your life, it will show.

Finally, obedience is a way that God has established to help us pray more effectively. If you look in the Bible, you will see the term abide used.   Abide is not a word we use every day and you may wonder what it means. See it in the context of John 15:7: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you.”   This is a “tit for tat” relationship based on human moral and ethical behavior. If we obey God’s commands and learn to please Him, we are more likely to know how to pray within God’s parameters. W. Bingham Hunter says it is much more complicated than trading obedience currency for our prayer wishes. God is not some “divine vending machine.” We can’t force God’s hand with our obedient actions but we can learn to be more clearly aligned with God’s expectations if we read His Word, follow His commands and pray accordingly.

In this relationship, God and Jesus begin to manifest themselves in our Holy Spirit.   This is how we know God lives within us. Hunter goes on to say that Jesus discloses how this works in various places in the New Testament. The Spirit teaches us how to respond to life, reminds us of what Jesus has taught us. The spirit allows us to testify about God and it guides us “into all truth.”

We are conditioned by obedience this way: as we come to know God, we begin to see the Word through God’s eyes.

Just as good parents instill values into a child’s life and a good teacher can inspire values in a student, God can train all of us in the way we should go.

With God, obedience is worth it.

In my thinking, the life of a mature Christian is a good life…a life that I would love to lead.

The pathway to my maturity is based on my obedience.

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