(Picture by my dear husband)
One of the biggest challenges as a parent is training your child to listen and then obey what you have asked him to do. Sometimes the child doesn't obey because he doesn't listen. Another child doesn't obey because she forgot what you said as soon as she turned around. While still another child just doesn't obey because he didn't want to. In James 1: 22-25, it talks about this very thing-listening to God's word and then doing or not doing what it says.
"But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it."Even as an adult, I wish I did a better job of obeying what I have heard from God's word. I have been thinking about why I have so much trouble doing that. Here are 5 reasons that I have come up with.
1. I believe a lie about my circumstances.
When I taught school, I would often blame my students for me losing my temper. Really? I am in control of my temper. Yes, my students were misbehaving, but I still could chose to respond with love and grace. There are many circumstances that make it harder to obey God's word in our humanness I am tired. It doesn't look like I have a choice. I am sick. When I give in to the lies, I am forgetting that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I can obey even when my circumstances make it hard in Christ's strength but not my own.
Take for example the story of Daniel and his friends in Daniel chapter one. To eat of the king's food would have been to go against God and all they had been taught. They could have used the excuse that they didn't have anything else to eat. They didn't have a choice because they were captives. Instead, they looked for a way to obey. They talked with the guy in charge and came up with a solution. Daniel and his friends would eat vegetable and drink water for 10 days. At the end of the 10 days, the guy in charge could decide if they were better off on their diet. If not,they would eat the King's diet.
I remember one time a teacher telling me that it is always right to do right but it is never right to do wrong. I need to look for a way to obey despite my circumstances.
2. I don't believe I can change.
I have dealt with fears and insecurity most of my life. Worries and anxiety were my friends even though I wish they weren't. I believed it was just who I was. I was born this way and nothing could change it. But God isn't finished with me yet. (Phil 1:6) I am a new creation. Old things are passed away. All things have become new. (I Cor. 5:17)
I wouldn't say that I am totally fearless and secure but God has changed me and continues to do so. Fear and insecurity does not control me. I am free to be me. I am learning to trust where I use to fear. God can change us to be who he wants us to be.
3. I forget how costly grace is.
Jesus died so I can be forgiven of my past, present, and future sin. Sometimes I can get complacent and take that forgiveness and the grace that goes with it for granted. I will deal with obedience tomorrow. God will forgive me for today. Grace is costly. I don't want to live paranoid that I will sin but I do need to remember how costly grace was for my Savior and Lord.
4. God's word is not hidden in my heart.
Psalm 119:11 says "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." When God's word penetrates my mind, it doesn't stop there but it works its way into my heart and soul. One thing that I love about memorizing scripture is that as I review and meditate on God's word, it changes me. When I am facing an issue or dealing with sin in my life, scripture memory helps me. It helps me change my thought process. It gives me an alternative way to act. It makes it easier for me to not forget God's word as I walk away from the mirror.
5. I think my way is best.
Isn't that really why I don't obey? My pride or my arrogance says that I know what is best for me. How do I so quickly forget all the things God has done for me? That is why I like to journal. My journal reminds me of how God has saved me, loved me, and led me. It tells of the heartache when I disobey. It recounts God's faithfulness when I obey and follow despite my circumstances and my weaknesses. My journal reminds me that it is worth it.
I must not forget that God's ways are not my ways and that He has a plan for me. Looking back over the years, I see God working in ways I could not see at the time. The words of the hymn hold true. Trust and obey for there is no other way. To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. As my BSF teacher would say, "Obedience brings blessing."
Dear God, May I hide your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Show me those areas in my life where I am not obedient to your word. Expose the lies I have believed that I need to correct. Guide me on your true path. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for the blessings you give us. Amen.