As a parent with small children, I frequently find myself having to remind them to obey. 3 words that are uttered regularly in our house are “listen and obey”. We have a bedtime routine like many of you. After we have our family Bible story and prayer time, my son Noah is the first one to go to the bathroom, wash his hands, and brush his teeth. What usually happens after we’re done praying is my wife or I will remind him it’s time to go potty and brush his teeth. I’m sure none of you experience this, but sometimes no movement results. He’s still curled up in a blanket on the couch, snuggling with his momma or has already gotten distracted by a toy or something else. At that moment I typically use the age old parenting trick of letting him know he has until the count of 5 to get in the bathroom. I don’t have to even give him a consequence…I start counting and he starts running. J I wish it were always that easy because other times, as a parent when I tell my kiddos to do something, I’m met with resistance. Sometimes I’m ignored, sometimes they whine, sometimes they decide to do something else. They know exactly what they ought to do and yet they don’t respond the way I want. In a lot of ways I think God experiences the same frustration with his children…us!
As much as God would like to see us exhibit first time obedience…that moment where we learn what God wants from us and then immediately do it…so often God the Father is met with us ignoring Him, whining about what He wants us to do, or us just deciding to do something else. In all of our vast maturity we think we’ve got something better to do, more important, more worth our time, more critical in this busy moment. It’s as silly as when our children think that watching that one more tv show, playing a video game or whatever it is happens to be more important to do right now than whatever you as the parent said to do. Not only that, our lack of obedience makes us sinners. We saw that when we were studying James in Sunday School. James 4:17 says: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
I’m guessing many of us have a sin problem we’re not even aware of. We’re so concerned with not doing the wrong things we totally forget about the sin that comes from not being obedient to do the right things. Most of us can’t effectively discern God’s will for our lives or receive an answer to a prayer because of sin that exists in our lives from all the things God wants us to do that we’ve continually made excuses or ignored. Some of us have so ignored God’s instructions and commands, we’ve ceased to listen and obey to the extent that we don’t even feel guilty for it.
One of the best examples of this in the American church is our lack of sharing the gospel. You can’t be around a church very long and not know that God’s chosen to use us to reach people for Christ. You can’t be around a church very long to know God’s Word gives us purpose in this life and a major part of that is our efforts to make Christ known throughout the globe. At the same time, how many times have you shared the gospel this year? Some of you haven’t done it once, much less made it one of the priorities of your life. You’re just like the kid that knows exactly what they need to do…clean their room, take out the trash, get ready for bed and chooses to ignore that command. How frustrating it has to be for God to see His children live in disobedience. I know I get frustrated when my children don’t obey me.
Some of us know what we ought to do, but not how to do it. I can always appreciate when I give my children something to do and they try their best…they may not do it exactly the right now, the way I would do it, but they get the job done. I say that because for some of us, we know exactly what God wants us to do, but we have every excuse about not doing it because we don’t know how. That being said, maybe we should start by repenting of what we haven’t been doing that the Lord commanded,
then start trying something. Maybe it won’t be exactly right and you need to seek additional assistance but at least you’re trying. Do something, don’t wait to be the very best at whatever it is, to be the most effective…just do your best to fulfill the Lords commands. Follow the simple words many parents have uttered...listen and obey. We’re just a few short weeks away from 2019, we have such a great opportunity for a fresh start. What are you waiting for? Let’s be like my son when I start to count down for him to go to the bathroom...he’s running towards obedience…you can to!