Awhile back I posted some reflections on winning the Christy award, and there were some comments praising me for my obedience. I took minor exception to that and tried to explain why I didn't really see it as obedience because the desire in me was so strong to write, and because nothing about what I did was earned.
But I've been thinking about it ever since, because something was niggling at the back of my mind about what I'd said. I think I gave the impression that obedience isn't important. That the Christian way of life isn't really about obedience, and that's not so.
The Christian way of life is all about obedience. Grace Bible Church in Massachusetts is having a conference this week. I couldn't go because of the dog and the deadline, but I've been listening to the messages morning and evening, and this morning's message, on obedience, returned this subject to my mind.
Because I see now that I was obedient, but not so much in writing. I was obedient in learning what God’s Plan for my life is all about. I was obedient in submitting to the authority of my right pastor, something many, many people reject. Even the idea of having a right pastor is generally rejected today, and the idea of submitting to his greater knowledge, sitting down and learning from him is outright anathema. I have lost friends because of doing this. Many of my family members think I’m nuts, or in a cult. This is the kind of obedience that exacts a price.
A price not only in relationships, but in time and energy. It takes time to sit down daily and listen. It takes humility. Sometimes you don’t like what he says or don't agree with it. Sometimes it’s boring. Sometimes you are exhausted and the last thing you want to do is sit down and listen to someone speak. Sometimes you have to give up time with friends or family or going to the movies. It's hard. Especially at the beginning. It takes obedience – you obey the command not to forsake assembling yourselves, to keep on renewing your mind, to respect the authority of the pastor who’s been assigned to teach you, to make hearing and learning the word of God more important than your necessary, daily food.
Then after you learn the word, you have to obey it.
Keep on being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18)
Confess your sins -- keep short accounts (I Jn 1:9)
Keep on renewing your minds (Ro 12:2)
Be anxious for nothing. (Phil 4:6)
Set your minds on the things above not on the things of this world. (col 3:2)
Do not judge, do not criticize and find fault. (Ro 14:10; Jude 1:16)
Do all things without arguing and complaining. (Phil 2:14)
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit. (Phil 2:3)
Have this mind in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5)
Seek him first and his righteousness ... (Mt 6:33)
Do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him.(Pro 3:5,6)
Don’t worry yourself to gain wealth/success. Cease from your consideration of it. (Pro 23:4)Rejoice always. (I Th 5:16)
Pray without ceasing ("with the frequency of a hacking cough") (I Th 5:17)
In EVERYTHING give thanks (I Th 5:18)
God honors those who honor Him (I Sa 2:20). He honors His word above his own name -- wherever he finds it. If it is within me or in my books, He will honor it there. And it will only be there if I've made constant decisions to obey the commands to hear it, to learn it, to believe it, to live in it, to abide in it. That's where the obedience comes in.