God’s Motive in Our Obedience

God’s Motive in Our Obedience

I think it’s always instructive to look back to the life and teachings of the early church – to draw inspiration from them and, perhaps, to see whether or not we’ve wandered from some of the values that were important to the first Christians.

Obedience to God was very important to believers of the first century. We never find them giving themselves a pass, even though obeying God might be unpopular or may have even cost them their lives. No, there was a tacit understanding in the early church that coming to Jesus meant following Him – even to martyrdom. And, indeed, many did just that.

They took warnings like Proverbs 1:23 very seriously – warnings to give heed to the wisdom of God’s voice, to receive His correction, and to obey His instruction. It was their conviction that believers must obey the revealed Word of God and the convictions of the Holy Spirit.

But they did not see God as an angry tyrant; they saw Him as a loving Father. They heard in His warnings a Father’s loving voice – a voice pleading with them, “Let me lavish every good thing upon you!”

They heard it in Proverbs 1:23: “If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”

And in Proverbs 1:33: “Whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

And in Proverbs 8:32: “And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways.”

And in Proverbs 8:33-36:

33 Hear instruction and be wise,

and do not neglect it.

34 Blessed is the one who listens to me

35 For whoever finds me finds life

and obtains favor from the Lord,

36 but he who fails to find me injures himself;

all who hate me love death.”

They wanted that favor. They wanted to know God’s words. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42).

They believed that God wanted desperately to bless them because He truly loved them – so much so that He’d given His own Son for their salvation.

The apostles had been taught by Jesus Himself that the Father loves to bless His children and they shared this wonderful truth with the brothers and sisters who were saved through their preaching. Jesus asked, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” (Matthew 7:9-11)

How much more indeed!

So then, obedience should never be seen as a chore, but as a means of pleasing the Father that leads to blessing.

Oh, what a God we serve!

 

To consider:

  • How do you see obedience?
  • Many religious people obey God because they fear the consequences of not doing so. But faith, not fear should motivate us as followers of Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:7 reminds us that God hasn’t given us a timid, fearful spirit, but one of “power and love and self-control.”

Scriptural passages such as the ones we’ve discussed above remind us that the goal of God’s work in us is always good and that He desires to bless His children.

But sin, self-centeredness, and impurity move us away from God into a life that God cannot bless.

  • How does this view of God as a benevolent Father who longs to bless His children change your thinking about obedience? About His commandments?
  • How does this view of God contrast the ideas you may have had about God in your younger years?
  • Do you see how having a fuller understanding of God’s heart can transform the discipline of Christian obedience from a burdensome chore to a joyful expression of love?
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Comments

  1. I tried to think back to much younger and I honestly can’t tell you what my picture of God was because it really wasn’t a part of my life. I remember the first real encounter I had with God’s love was while we were living in North Kingstown while my dad was stationed in RI in the Navy we lived in military housing. I don’t know if any of you have had the pleasure of doing so but let’s just say I know why I never want to live in attached condos or anything remotely close lol. Not that it was that bad but – anyway we lived in a four section unit and a couple sections down there was a lady who once a week had like a kids club at her house. I remember she had a contest to see who could memorize the books of the New Testament and you would win a Bible. Guess who memorized and got that Bible? Yup – me. Another memory is she would make us little frozen snack in Dixie cups frozen grape koolaid – and she was just a loving kind women. I don’t remember her name but I remember thinking I want to know what she knows – a Father who loved her and the kindness she had. My dad was gone 6 months at a time out at sea and my mom was raising 4 kids so needless to say there was not much time in her life then. And then our lives fell apart and everything changed and I had to leave there but I truly believe that my Heavenly Father was reaching out to my heart showing me through this women what a His love was. A Father who wants us to know Him and to be a His child. So every little act of kindness and every time you for example do J-Rock or Sunday school or sing and minister to those in nursing homes who feel alone and need to know this a Father- you are sharing His love. Press on my friends.

    • Kathryn Boisvert : January 9, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      Ah! What a beautiful picture of your heavenly father wooing his child at such a young age as he did for you Joy, in spite of your circumstances! Thank you for sharing that much of your heart w/us!
      The first thing that crossed my mind as I read pastors blog was isn’t obedience the best gift we can give to our heavenly father as a thank you for his death and resurrection and our new life in Christ and ultimate reward- a place with him in heaven?!

  2. Growing up Catholic, I don’t ever remember seeing God as anything but a distant power who was poised and ready to send down lightening bolts of punishment in order to keep rebellious children “in line”. Clearly, that’s the difference between religion and relationship. Those who have experienced unloving, cold, indifferent, selfish, absent, or even abusive fathers often struggle to receive unconditional love from our perfect heavenly Father. Still, His boundless love transcends our past. The sinless blood of Christ conquers all. Yielding to the power and purpose of that love radically alters my understanding of His love. The deepest, most profound experiences of His presence accompany our submission. I praise Him for this “newness of life” made available every day through the power of His indwelling Spirit, making us “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”(Rom.8:37)

  3. My views of God as a child, were so varied… My mom passed away when I was 5. I was told that “God took her”. I recall that I was mad at him for taking my mom, but terrified that he’d take my dad, too. Then in my early teen years, we were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Works, works, works, and never knowing if it was enough.

    Then, I went to a service with Steve and his mom, Emma. WOW! God loves me!… Enough that He DIED for me… He wants to communicate with me, one on one! Oh how I, then and now, want to please Him; not because I HAVE to, but because I WANT to! I want to leave behind not only the “bad” things, but those things that are not pleasing to Him, because I love Him. He’s shown me time and time again, HE LOVES ME!! Even when I feel the “nudge” of the Spirit, steering me in a direction other than the one I’d like to take, I know He’s guiding me for a purpose. God is SOOOO good!

    • Karen oh my thank you for sharing this I had no idea at 5? All I can think is Logan is 5 and if possibly that happened and I passed and someone told him that I can understand the thought process of a 5 year old so much clearer and how things are said to a 4-5 year old and how that forms their structures of thinking/feeling. He would be mad and the thought of how that made you feel – my heart hurts for your emotions that still are there. I know that God has you holds you and loves you and isn’t it just so good that we know this? I want to hug that little girl and just comfort her.

      • Aw, thanks Joy! It’s so much easier, now of course, that I’m older and know that God has a purpose for EVERYTHING that He allows to happen. I also have a wonderful promise that we’ll be reunited some day. Oh what a GLORIOUS day that will be!

  4. David Medeiros : January 9, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    Probably like many of you, my first real encounter with Jesus came as an adult of 28, and that through tragedy.And I also grew up RC but have little recollection of God as father though I heard it many times along with Jesus dying on the cross but it never registered.
    When I think about obedience, my attention is drawn to 1 Samuel 15 in that confrontation between Samuel and Saul about Saul’s disobedience in totally destroying everything of Amalek and saving some of the choice animals to sacrifice. This is Samuel’s response recorded, starting in vs. 22, and Samuel said,” has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to listen than the fat of rams. Verse 23,for rebellion is as the sin divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you from being king.

    • Wow. Excellent point hubby… I shudder to think of my disobedience being as divination (sorcery/witchcraft) from God’s perspective. Yikes! Eye-opening and sobering. All the more reason to seek His will in ALL things. Lord, help me to remember that Your desire to bless me. Furthermore,quicken me to remember that any “No” or “Not yet” is as much of a gift as the “Yes” I seek.

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