Read Exodus 20
Obedience. We insist on it from our children. One of my son’s first sentences was “Children, obey your parents.”
It’s a big deal, kids obeying their parents. It’s emphasized in the Bible enough that pretty much everyone gets it. Even secular parenting magazines recognize the importance of obedience. It’s about safety, health, and developing a strong character.
But kids and pets aren’t the only ones who are required to obey. We are too.
My eldest lamented the other day how easy it is to obey when you are a grown up. And you never get punished…
I took the liberty of pointing out a few Biblical “grown ups” who were indeed punished, be it ever so severely.
• Korah disobeyed God by rebelling against His leader, Moses and the earth opened up and swallowed him (and his entire family and all their belongings). (Numbers 16).
• Saul disobeyed God by not killing an enemy God knew was going to cause big trouble later on and he ended up losing his crown to David. (1 Samuel 15).
• David disobeyed God by taking another man’s wife and having her husband killed. His baby died because of his sin. (2 Samuel 11).
• Ananias and Sapphira disobeyed God by lying about a gift, and he struck them dead on the spot. (Acts 5).
As I listed off these first few that came to mind, I began to feel a bit squeamish. Grown ups disobey. A lot. In really big ways. And the consequences can be far reaching.
Take the million ways we can break the ten commandments in a day:
1. Have no other gods—our lives are full of idol worship. Husbands, children, tv, possessions, jobs, free time… And the consequences seep into every area of our lives. Putting God first brings order while anything else brings chaos. Anyone else’s life filled with a little too much chaos?
2. Make no graven image—our graven images, our statues are the physical representations of what we worship. Sometimes we bow before intangible things like power or love. Other times we put a face on them by making idols of homes or people. Disorder results.
3. Do not misuse the name of the Lord: Disrespect for the title breeds disrespect for the position which will allow you to easily marginalize the Almighty God. Doing so allows you to usurp his position and control your own life. And we all know what nastiness results from that.
4. Remember the Sabbaths and keep it holy. If we take this literally, most of us break this one already by worshipping on Sunday instead of Saturday. But how many of us actually rest on our observed Holy day? The consequence here is that we don’t give our minds and bodies the chance to rejuvenate. We feel rushed and stressed, even on our day off.
5. Honor your father and your mother. Some of us have this one figured out by the time we’re adults, but let’s face it, some parents are difficult to honor. Tense family gatherings, strained relations between in-laws, Thanksgiving disasters—much of this is because we have difficulty honoring our parents. Not that parents are innocent in all of this…
6. Do not murder: a life sacred to God eliminated, prison, guilt, broken relationships…
7. Do not commit adultery: more broken relationships, disease, unplanned pregnancy, distrust between spouses, scandal, severed relationships with children…
8. Do not steal: permanent character damage, more damaged relationships, jail time…
9. Don’t lie: can result in a damaged reputation, a few terms in congress, more time in the slammer if you do it under oath…
10. Do not covet: leads to discontent, unhappiness, complaining, bitterness, nagging…
All this to say, even as adults, disobedience has consequences. And that is why God is so emphatic about children obeying their parents. It is through obedience to earthly authority that we learn, as adults, to yield to heavenly authority.
On Sunday, I had the great pleasure of witnessing a public display of obedience. A couple who has been living together for several years, stood up before their church family and before God the Father and exchanged their marriage vows. They signed the papers for only one reason only.
God said to.
There was backlash and drama in their extended families as a result, but they, even as baby Christians, understood that they needed to obey God rather than men. They were in a committed relationship, nigh unto a common law marriage recognized by the state, but they knew that wasn’t yielding to God’s will for their lives.
So they, with very little fanfare, got married after church on a Sunday morning. I’m pretty sure there was a tear in the Father’s eye as they promised before him to love, honor and cherish.
We have a choice. We can obey or not. In Exodus, God tells the Israelites, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Don’t just pick and choose parts to obey. I tell my sons, “if you grumble and complain, you aren’t really obeying.” They are not obeying fully when they whine while they sluggishly carry out my bidding. They are robbing themselves of joy by being partially obedient.
What parts are you choosing not to obey? What excuses have you made as to why you’re disregarding that part? Are you missing out on being a “treasured possession” because of it?