Obedience Is Not Convenient
Obedience is Not Convenient
by Jasmin Michelle Smith
As Bible-believing Christians, we tend to understand obedience on a practical level. We know that we are expected to obey our parents, our elders, our bosses, our spiritual authorities, etc. What happens, though, when we are told to do something that we don’t want to do, when it doesn’t feel good, when it doesn’t look promising, when it’s not convenient? Is begrudging obedience still obedience?
The Bible tells us that obedience is greater than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22), and we all know that sacrifice isn’t easy, nor is it supposed to be. So, what makes us think that obedience should be? Unfortunately, many of us learn obedience through our suffering and often at our own hands; having made choices that appealed to our carnal nature rather than seeking the will of God for the situation before making our choices. It is in these instances, that we typically learn the hard way that we should have obeyed the still small voice within us, instead of our own. Other times, God may take us through a storm in order to refine us and make us more reliant on him. Regardless of the cause of our suffering, we have an opportunity to be strengthened and perfected by it, to become more like Christ.
“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”
– Hebrews 5:8-9 (KJV)
Sometimes we are called to be obedient in our waiting. Even when we may feel that we are ready to take the next big step in our life or that we have been waiting long enough to claim a promise from God; if He says wait, then we must wait. Consider Abraham, who waited 25 years for God to fulfill His promise that Abraham and his wife Sarah would have a son. Yes, he did become impatient and try to “help God” by having a child with Hagar, but his son Ishmael and Hagar were both removed from him because they were not a part of God’s will for Abraham.
There are times when we are called to do things that hurt and that we may not understand even after time has passed. Consider Moses, who left the comfort and safety of Pharaoh’s family to deliver his people from Egypt. He was asked by God to do many things that he didn’t feel prepared or qualified to do, and yet his obedience connected him directly to God and saved God’s people. Consider Abraham again, who was asked by God to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac, for whom he’d waited for 25 years. His obedience to do so proved to God that he would be faithful even when things were not easy. Neither of these men knew what the outcomes of their situations would be, and most certainly did not have much support when they made their original decisions to obey, but they knew that God would not fail them if they followed His voice.
Still at other times we are called by God to do things that seem ridiculous to others, and occasionally even to ourselves. We are asked to be obedient when everyone around us thinks we are crazy. Consider Noah: the people of his time had never experienced rain and thought he was crazy for building an ark for a supposed flood, but Noah obeyed God’s voice when told to build an ark and was saved when the flood did come.
If you have been truly living for the Lord for any length of time, you have surely been asked to be obedient in at least one of these ways. I have seen first hand that the benefits of obedience always far outweigh the potential discomfort and inconvenience we may feel. For one, it is always seen and acknowledged by God with a greater blessing than anything we may have “given up” or “lost.” It is shown time and time again in the Bible (Abraham, Moses, Noah, Joseph, etc.), and when you take time to reflect, it is likely that you too have had your own experience with this. Our obedience to God’s voice and His plans for our lives is the evidence of our faith in Him, and over time, it increases our faith and in turn makes us righteous!
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
– Hebrews 11:7-8 (NIV)
We do not have to be perfect, or even what we would consider to be “ready,” in order to obey God and receive His promises for our lives. In fact, if we were perfect we wouldn’t need God, nor would our obedience be considered faith. As our faith continues to grow, obedience will follow; and as we continue to obey, our faith will be shown and strengthened. They work together in perfect harmony. We don’t need faith to do things that make sense or feel good. We are called to have faith in what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:11), and to obey in spite of our fleshly desires (Galatians 5:17).
Obedience was never meant to be convenient, but it is always profitable!