I have a child who has an interesting, but annoying, habit: when she is told to do something, she abandons what she was told to do and does something else or even several other things that are good but are not what was asked of her. For instance, I’d say, “Tidy up your room” and instead of doing just that, she’d wash and put away the dishes, clean the cooker and wipe the kitchen counter. To her, she’s done something good but to me, she’s disobeyed me.
Till date, despite repeated explanations, she doesn’t seem to understand that doing some helpful chores does not make up for her failure to do what she was told to do……for her disobedience. As God’s children, we are wont to do the same thing. He says, “Do this” and we do something else that we feel should please Him.
What is God’s stance on obedience?
The Bible tells of an incident like this where Saul disobeyed God. When God instructed him to destroy the Amalekites completely, he and his soldiers kept the king alive and kept all the nice looking animals. In his case, his told a lie by saying they kept the animals to sacrifice them to God…..a lie he had to retract (in verse 24) when God’s judgment was meted out to him. What is noteworthy is that even in response to the lie, this was the the prophet said:
“What pleases the LORD more:
burnt offerings and sacrifices
or obedience to his voice?
It is better to obey than to sacrifice.
It is better to listen to God than to offer the fat of sheep.”
(1 Sam.15:22, NCV)
Partial obedience is not true obedience. If we love God, we will obey Him (Jn.14:15). When we don’t do the basic things God expects of us and think we can appease Him by doing some other random stuff, we are merely deceiving ourselves. How can we being doing ‘good’ but not pleasing God? If we are not loving Him with all our hearts, minds and souls and not loving our neighbours like ourselves but we are ‘faithful’ in attending meetings and carrying out duties in our local assemblies; if we cheat, steal and compromise on God’s standard of holiness in order to make money but ‘pay’ a huge tithe to our local assembly/pastor……. I’m sure you get my drift.
Let’s go back to the basics:
• Desire to be obedient to God. “(We) can do all things through Christ who strengthens (us)” (Phil.4:13) but the starting point is a desire to please Him. It would help to remember that we were created for HIS pleasure, not ours (Rev.4:11).
• Let’s start with the written Word of God – the Bible. As we read it daily (as prescribed by Joshua and David, and because we need to feed our spirits just as much as we need to feed our bodies….or even more), we need to apply what we read to our personal lives and determine to do what is written. God’s Word is full of doctrines and principles that guide the Christian, showing how our King expects things to be done in His kingdom here on Earth.
• After this level of obedience, as God speaks to us or prompts us by His Spirit dwelling in us, we should obey His leading in ALL areas of our lives. It’s important to note that God is not likely to speak any more on an issue once He has spoken and He will not give another instruction until we have carried out the last one given.
When we desire to be obedient to God and to please Him,
• we are sheep indeed and we are able to hear His voice so we don’t have to stumble in the dark like those without a Shepherd (Jn.10:27);
• we receive grace (divine enablement) to obey because it’s not by power nor by might, but by the Spirit of God that indwells us (Zech.4:6);
• we are able to be sustained by God’s supply even in a land undergoing famine (Is.1:19; Ps.1:1-3);
• we won’t have to be petitioning God to do the things He has covenanted to do with us because we are doing our part of the bargain;
• most importantly, our lives will be a living sacrifice offered up to God daily and we will give Him pleasure.
So, are you really a true worshipper?
The true worship God is seeking from us goes beyond the songs we sing in church (or wherever we have our daily devotion); it goes beyond the declarations of love that don’t go beyond our lips or beyond our current emotional state (with our without music). This true worship is an intimate love relationship between the Creator and His creation in which His creation appreciates and responds to His love with a reciprocal love that seeks to please Him – the Lover of our souls. It is this love (His to us and ours in response to His) that motivates us to obey Him and assures us that we are safe in His will, so we gladly submit our own will to carry out His superior will. When we obey God, we are truly worshiping Him. That’s why worship is a lifestyle and not an activity – because we have so many opportunities throughout every day of our lives to choose His will…..to obey Him……to worship Him in spirit and in truth.