Archive for July 14th, 2009

Obeying Is Not Easy; It’s Just Best

July 14th, 2009

“God is at work in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 NAS

“You cannot manufacture obedience, but you can cultivate the desire in a redeemed heart.”

My thoughts today are: “obeying is not easy; it’s just best.”

I wish that I had never had to say to our kids, “just because I said so, that’s why.” Obedience is non-negotiable, even if you don’t like that. Sometimes they would leave me no other option, at least not one that I could allow or that they would like. It would have been much more satisfying to them, as well as for me, if that had not been required? Having to demand obedience is not satisfying to either the person demanding or the person obeying.

Very often obedience is about something that you would prefer not to do – but it is never optional without unforeseen and undesired consequence. The price and pain of not obeying is always more than the cost and inconvenience of obedience. Why should it be hard to obey? I think that obeying assumes an inaccurate focus of having to do something, rather than your wanting to do so. Maybe obedience is harder than it ought to be because you assume you will feel good about obeying (which usually happens only sometime afterwards, rather than at the time), or you may wrongly believe you can do that with your own resolve and power.

There is good news. God knows well that obedience is not natural or easy for you or me. Here’s what the Bible says, “You must be even more careful to put into action God’s saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.” Philippians 2:12-13 NLT. Did you catch the connection between God’s saving action and your obedience? A developed character will enable you to learn to love obedience and to live obediently in all situations.

Maturity and discipleship elevate obeying God to a level of joyous response to all that He’s done for you. You can depreciate the very act of obedience when you get caught up in preoccupation with “ought to,” rather than “want to.” You may then become so distracted by what you ought to do that you easily forget what God is already doing inside you.

God is at work! And He is working in you! And the result of God’s work in you is that you choose what God chooses for you, and you joyfully give whatever effort and expense is required for you to accomplish “what pleases Him most.”

You should not try to manufacture obedience, but you can cultivate the inner desire of the redeemed heart that is resident within you. The Psalmist called you and me to “serve the Lord with gladness.” Psalm 100. Paul said, “. . give what has been decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly, or of compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you . .” 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 NIV.

That spirit of cheerful giving is a principal about every area of your spiritual life – with much broader application than just financial matters. We all need to learn how to obey from the context of love, not law – from the heart, not conscience – with joy, not duty. I have learned that anything outward that is not a faithful expression of what is inward will never be authentic or satisfying.

My prayer for you today is that you will find delight in what pleases your Father.

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