Obedience…or Love?

What’s the first thing you do if you spot a police car laying in wait on the side of the road?

Driving home tonight I encountered just that in one of the oft-used radar spots of this commonly traveled highway. Glancing ahead I watched a string of brake lights blink on and off as people slowed their quick commuting pace and chuckled to myself. Yes, it’s true that by the time you see a police car the radar has probably already recorded your speed, but stepping on the brake seems to be instinct.

While I wasn’t concerned about being caught for speeding, I too found myself briefly stepping off the gas and it made me wonder to myself. Even though I wasn’t afraid of being caught what was the reason I maintained a reasonable speed? Did I do it only because I didn’t want to get a ticket?

For that matter, why do we obey any rules or laws of the land?

As children most of us are taught right from wrong. At home, school, church and in the community we are instructed to follow the rules whether or not we had a part in creating them. We didn’t have to understand why the rules were in place, it was our responsibility to follow them to be good children, students, citizens, etc.

And most of us do obey.

But why? Only because we don’t want to get caught? Simply because we don’t want to reap the punishment that comes from disobedience? Or is there a reward for obeying?

On the rest of my drive my pondering mind took the thought one step further. . .

Why do I obey God?

Do I do what God instructs because I am afraid of His wrath? Do I want to avoid the discipline and cost of disobedience? Or does it go deeper than that? Is there a reward for obeying God?

Digging into the scriptures I found that there are rewards.

To the Israelites headed to the promised land God instructed:

So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. Deuteronomy 5:32-33 NIV

Paul reminds the Romans where obedience will lead them:

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16 NIV

Jesus Himself told the people:

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 NIV

So there are promises…rewards for obeying God’s word and His will for our lives! That’s great, but should that be our motive?

I realized that the ultimate obedience came from Jesus. He was obedient to His Father out of love. That love was not only for God the Father but for US!! Jesus loved us so much that He submitted to the worst death imaginable…death on a cross for sins He did not commit.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8 NIV

For me this is what it all boils down to. My obedience to God needs to be out of my love for Him. It shouldn’t be only because I fear the punishment for my disobedience but because I love Him so much I want to do what will please Him.

Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23 NIV

That’s the bottom line…L O V E!

What is your “bottom line” when it comes to obedience? Do you do it because you don’t want punishment, because you’re looking for a reward, or for some other reason?

blessings and peace to you as you obey!

Paula

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What Does It Matter?

I used to love to run. I loved the feeling of freedom as I ran and the sense that I was doing something good for my body. I hadn’t run in a long time and watching runners go by the house or the office made me long to run again…to be one of them. Also, they say that running is one of the best ways to lose weight. So I decided it was time. I found a walk/run program that trains you to go from walking to running 30 minutes in 30 days and prepared myself to start. I would run on a path near my house made of cork – a good place to start my adventure. 

Last Monday I was up at 5am, strapped on my mp3 player, leashed the dog, and we were off. It went really well and I felt great when I got home.

Tuesday was a strength training day.

Wednesday we were back on course. Again I felt great when we got done. I was so excited! I was on my way to being a RUNNER!!

By Wednesday night I felt a little differently. My joints were aching and even additional stretching didn’t seem to help. Thursday morning it was hard to get out of bed because of the stiffness and pains. A little anti-inflammatory and I was on my way but rethinking my future as a runner. Perhaps running isn’t the best thing for my body. Maybe I should walk instead.

But I want to be a RUNNER!!

Why do I want to be a runner? Is it because I think it’s the best thing for me or do I have some kind of idea that runners are better people than me and are in some kind of elite club that I want to be a part of? Do I need to get “over myself” to do what’s best for me instead of potentially doing my body harm? Is my stubbornness actually hurting me?

Sometimes I find myself getting hung up over things that seem so important at the time. But do these things really matter in the grand scheme of life? And the bigger question – do they matter to God?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.     Jeremiah 29:11-13

It can be very difficult for us to live in a world where performance is valued so highly and we are constantly fed with messages of what we need to do in order to ‘fit in’. We are prodded to own the latest electronic gadget, rub shoulders with the right people and keep up on the newest forms of entertainment. Seeking out God’s purposes for us can be a big challenge. Holding fast to those purposes & promises is an even bigger challenge. Sometimes things don’t happen as quickly as we think they ought to and we aren’t always rewarded in the way we would like. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t there or that He’s not listening to us.

The last verse in the Jeremiah passage above gives us a requirement for finding God and His purposes for us. We must seek Him with ALL our hearts. For me this means letting go of ideas I’m holding onto about how I want a situation to turn out or being worried about what others think about me. Sometimes it means letting go of my heart’s desires when God reveals to me they are not His desires for me. It requires me to not be stubborn and not be selfish, but believe that His will is greater than mine, even when I don’t understand.

What areas of your life are you holding too tightly when perhaps they don’t matter as much as you think they do? I encourage you to release them to God and seek Him with your whole heart. Then accept what He reveals to you and move ahead with Him.

As for my fitness challenge, maybe some day I will run but for this morning Lucy and I are on our way to try race walking. I may be able to eventually achieve the speed of jogging without the high impact and unhappy joints. Sure I might look funny but what does it matter?


Blessings and peace to you all!

Paula