“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 (NIV)
When you read the word obedience, what comes to your mind? If you’re like me, you instantly think of its opposite—disobedience and the consequences that go with it. According to Webster, obedience is defined as “submission to authority.” However, after studying God’s Word, I have a new view of obedience—a view that requires a different response from my heart.
In the Old Testament, obey means to hear. It stresses not only hearing but also understanding. As God spoke through His revelation (His ways and works), His people would understand His desire for them—“plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give hope and a future.”(Jer. 29:11). Obedience is the outward expression of a heart that hears God.
Obedience in the Old Testament was relational and enabled God to bless His covenant people (Lev. 25:18-19; Deut. 4:30). The call to obedience was an invitation filled with both blessing and warning. “Do good to your servant according to your word…before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” (Ps. 110:65-68) Obedience is the outward expression of a heart that turns to God.
Jesus’ teaching of obedience, as in the Old Testament, flows out of a personal relationship and is motivated only by love. The obedience of Jesus is held as the ultimate example for believers as we strive to adopt a Christ-like attitude in our daily walk. “He humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:8) Obedience is the outward expression of a heart that loves God.
God’s call for obedience is a loving invitation to experience His best. Properly understood, it is never a cold or impersonal command that arouses resentment. Our response of obedience should flow from a heart that hears, turns and loves God. Do you need a new view on obedience?
It has been said that disobedience is a form of arrogance and pride—arrogance stemming from our own self-importance and pride in the belief that we can take care of our own needs. What do you think? What does disobedience look like to in your life?