Years ago, our son Connor’s friend, Jake, and his little brother, Tommy, were playing at our house.
Tommy was just a little guy–around two or three years old–and whenever Jake came over, Tommy wanted to come too. And, on this particular day, the big boys were okay with Tommy tagging along.
When their dad, Matt, came to pick them up, the boys were busy playing in the basement. So Matt stood at the top of the stairs and called down, “Come on, boys, it’s time to go!”
Jake bounded up the stairs, but Tommy stood at the bottom and cried, “No!” It’d been all that little guy could do to get there, and now he didn’t want to leave.
“Tommy, come up the stairs,” Matt instructed. But Tommy just whined in response.
So, Matt encouraged him, “Take one step, Tommy.”
Tommy took one step and then just stood on the staircase and whined some more. He did this for all twelve of the steps. Matt just kept patiently telling him, “Tommy, you need to obey.”
Once Tommy had dragged his reluctant toddler self all the way up to the top stair–after this long, agonizing process–his daddy hugged him.
As I observed this, I remember thinking, “What a beautiful picture of how hard it feels to obey sometimes, but how we obey because we love our Father and trust our Father, and there’s always a reward of obedience.”
Sister, sometimes we feel like Tommy, don’t we? Obedience is hard! But the cost of obedience will never be greater than the reward of it.
In this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, KC and I get practical about what obedience looks like, how to do it, and why you want to. Plus, we even look at some verses in the book of Haggai. It may not be a book of the Bible you visit much, so this is your day to hang out with me, KC, and our guy, Haggai.
The What, Why, and How of Obedience
- What obedience looks like. According to Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, biblical obedience is “to hear God’s Word and act accordingly.” Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible says, “True ‘hearing,’ or obedience, involves the physical hearing that inspires the hearer, and a belief or trust that in turn motivates the hearer to act in accordance with the speaker’s desires.” So, obedience means you hear, you trust, you submit, and you willingly surrender to God and His Word.
In the book of Haggai, this is exactly what the Jews didn’t do. Instead, they were distracted and disobedient (Haggai 1:4). God had instructed them to build His house (Haggai 1:8), but being obedient would’ve cost them time, effort, and interest. It turns out that disobedience had a far greater cost, though. In Haggai 1:9-10, the Jews taste the fruit of their sorry seeds of disobedience—disappointment, doubt, and lack.
- Why you want to obey. There’s a direct connection between obedience and blessing. In Deuteronomy 7:12-14, growth, prosperity, and fertility were all direct results of obedience. While, death, poverty, and futility were results of disobedience. Jesus even said, in Luke 11:28, that obedience is blessed.
You may not see this in your gardens and barnyards as the Israelites did, but you might see it and feel it in your life. When you’re obedient, you experience growth, spiritual prosperity, and live in abundance. When you’re disobedient, hope and peace die a slow death. You find yourself in spiritual poverty and your best efforts end in futility. So, clearly, obedience is the best choice.
But, when it comes to obedience, can you do the right thing with the wrong motive? The end of Haggai 1:8 tells us what the purpose of your obedience is: you obey because God takes pleasure and is honored by it. So, your obedience is for God’s glory. What brings God glory brings you good, right? That means that even if you don’t see a direct link between your obedience and God’s blessings, you’re still blessed because your soul’s satisfied.
- How you can practice obedience. Obedience is about your relationship with God—this includes both your love for Him and your trust in Him. 1 John 2:3-6 says the way you obey reflects your relationship. You can obey no matter what, if you love and trust God.
The principle that God teaches us in Psalm 37:4 shows us that the desire to obey God starts with delight. So, don’t start with discipline, start with delight. It leads to desire, and it’s easy to discipline yourself in an area you desire. If you delight in God, you’ll desire to obey no matter what. If you only focus on the sheer, grit-your-teeth discipline of obedience, you miss the blessing of obedience.
Psalm 119:1–8 says:
Joyful are people of integrity,
who follow the instructions of the Lord.
Joyful are those who obey his laws
and search for him with all their hearts.
They do not compromise with evil,
and they walk only in his paths.
You have charged us
to keep your commandments carefully.
Oh, that my actions would consistently
reflect your decrees!
Then I will not be ashamed
when I compare my life with your commands.
As I learn your righteous regulations,
I will thank you by living as I should!
I will obey your decrees.
Please don’t give up on me!
Friend, God will never give up on you. His love for you isn’t less when you disobey, and it isn’t more when you do. Your obedience does bless God, but it also blesses you.
So, today, let’s trust the truth that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, and that includes obeying no matter what.
Learn More About the Take Courage Bible Study
- Get to know our guy Haggai even better as we study this prophet together in my newest Bible study, Take Courage: A Study of Haggai (LifeWay, July 2020). Watch the brand new video trailer and pre-order Take Courage here!
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Take Courage: A Study of Haggai (LifeWay, July 2020)
- Lessons I Learned in the Dark: Steps to Walking By Faith, Not By Sight
- Walking By Faith Bible Study
Links Mentioned in This Episode
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Is there an area in your life where you need to trust God and obey Him no matter what the outcome?