FIVE TREASURES BEHIND THE DOOR OF OBEDIENCE. Will You Open It?
“If students would just be obedient, my life would be so much easier,” said every teacher at least once a day! Educators value obedience. The rules we set aren’t arbitrary. We want what is best for our students, and rules are needed to protect and guide them. However, students often don’t share our perspective. Many children see rule-following as something being forced on them, often constricting, and always a duty to determine if they are good or bad. Obedience, while important and necessary, can get a bad rap from a very early age depending on one’s life experiences. This is where it gets dicey. The line between the secular view of obedience and the spiritual truth of obedience can become blurred, leaving us living our Christian life “duty-driven” instead of “love-driven.”
I’m not quite sure where I got sidetracked on this whole obedience thing. Maybe it was growing up in the church, or maybe it was my family's influence. Maybe it was my reformer-type personality, or maybe it was my experiences in school with some pretty strong-willed teachers. I’m not really sure. It was probably a combination of all four! Somewhere along the way, I picked up on the message that obedience was a duty. The more obedient I was, the more value I had. I wanted to be perceived as being good, so I tried to be obedient. When I wasn’t, I didn’t always come clean; instead, I hid it. I also felt guilty, but not guilty enough to admit fault. It’s pretty obvious this wasn’t good for many reasons, but when this mindset takes root in our spiritual lives, it can be crippling.
When obedience becomes a duty, dread creeps in. If we are not careful, unhealthy thoughts can fill our minds. “If I obey, what in the world will God ask me to do? If I obey, what will God ask me to give up?” When obedience is a duty, guilt takes over, often resulting in our hiding when we fail. Our worth becomes associated with our ability or inability to “follow the rules,” and God becomes that mean teacher watching and waiting for us to make a mistake. I seriously believe this is the work of the enemy. He doesn’t want us to step through the door of obedience because he knows that once we do, we will find invaluable treasures there.
This kind of reminds me of the game show, Let’s Make a Deal. Contestants must pick what’s behind Door 1, 2, or 3. They have no idea what is behind the doors. They just know if they pick the right one, they will win something of great value. There is much anticipation as the door opens and the contents are revealed. Sometimes contestants celebrate their choice; other times they leave the show feeling dejected. Unlike these contestants, however, when we open the door of obedience, we always win. Why? Because we already know what is on the other side! Unfortunately, sometimes we forget, and this loss of memory can prevent us from receiving the treasures awaiting behind the door of obedience.
Let me jog your memory. We can open the door of obedience with excitement and anticipation because of these treasures.
God is ALREADY there! The Bible says over and over that God never leaves us or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5-6). The consequences of our obedience only lead to greater knowledge of and experience with our heavenly Father. He is right there waiting!
Blessing awaits. In Luke 11:28 Jesus told the crowds, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and continually put it into practice.” The Amplified version describes blessed as happy and favored by God. Just like our classroom rules are in the best interest of our students, God’s standards enable us to live lives full of happiness, favor, and blessing. (James 1:25)
Love abounds. Jesus told His disciples His love and the Father’s love are revealed on the other side of obedience. Here are His words in John 14:23.“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Let me clarify one important truth. God’s love for us isn’t contingent upon our obedience. We know from John 3:16 that God loves the whole world. However, this is a perfect description of how our obedience is to be “love-driven” and not “duty-driven.” When we lovingly walk through the door of obedience, we will be met with God’s love through the power of the Holy Spirit which He has given those who believe (John 14:15-17).
Grace is given. Sometimes obedience is hard, and we aren’t sure we can do what God wants us to do. Paul assures us there is always enough of God’s grace—unmerited favor—to enable us to be obedient. All we have to do is push the door open and trust God to do the rest. Hold onto this truth. “Work hard to show the result of your salvation obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
Notice this passage doesn’t say “work for” your salvation. Paul says we are to “work hard” to show the result of our salvation. Obedience is not something we do to earn God’s favor. Obedience is a reflection of the change God has brought about in our lives. By His grace He gives us the desire and power to be obedient. When we obey, grace is freely given!
Light shines. There is nothing worse than being in a dark room unable to see and navigate. This is what it is like when we don’t open the door of obedience to expose the light of God’s Word. Disobedience leaves us roaming around in the dark, but Psalm 119:105 tells us God’s Word is a light that shows us where and how to walk. When we follow His commands, the door of obedience is opened and there we find Jesus, who IS the light.
“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12
The benefits of an obedient life in Christ are absolutely endless. I wish I had learned to think about obedience in this way at a much earlier age! Obedience doesn’t have to be duty-driven but can come from our love for God and His goodness to us. Obedience isn’t a burden. It is an opportunity to experience great treasures—His presence, blessing, love, grace, and light! Will you open the door of obedience?
Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3