When the word obedience is mentioned, my natural inclination is to link it with disobedience and the resultant punishment. A child learns obedience either through reward or punishment. At the age of four, when I painted the neighbor’s brand new washing machine bright red, a reward was the last thing on my mom’s mind. Though it was my first burst of creativity, the neighbor didn’t quite see it that way. Alas, punishment was the tool to help me understand that there are consequences for disobedience.
You may remember in the movie Forrest Gump, there were several instances where Forrest took seriously the words of his mom or Lieutenant Dan … or his girlfriend, Jenny, when she yelled, “Run, Forrest, Run!” He was a simple-minded character who found it easy to comply. Obedience was in his nature.
But what about those of us with a complex nature, living in a complex world? We seem to resist obedience if it doesn’t suit our immediate agenda. Though most of us attempt to be good citizens by voting, driving safely, keeping our yards and houses well groomed, paying our taxes, recycling, etc., we each have our areas of weakness which cause us to resist conformity. It may be inconsequential, but if our resistance breaks a law, there is a price to pay.
Unlike obeying the laws of man, obedience towards God is not mandatory. We have a choice. In the Bible, God has given us a full historical account of His people, the Israelites, who wandered away and then returned to His Way—over and over. Moses was given the Ten Commandments, The Law, to instruct them in how to live. There were so many rules attached to these initial Ten, it was impossible to remember them all, much less keep them!
When Jesus Christ was born, lived a sinless life and then died for our sins, the Law of the Old Testament was replaced by the new Covenant of Grace. We live under grace because Christ took on our sin, innocent though He was, and rose victoriously from an agonizing death on a shameful and cruel cross, so that we could share eternity with Him.
God’s Word is a complete reference book on how to live victoriously through faith and trust in Jesus Christ. We are given instructions for obedience and we are given warnings concerning disobedience. As you live life and grow in your faith, you begin to realize that His commandments are not for your punishment, but to prevent you from making decisions that will harm you.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” (KJV) Proverbs 3:5–7