God’s Motive in Our Obedience
by Pastor Gene
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!
- 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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