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!