The American Humorist, Mark Twain, told it, so it must be true! Supposedly he once overheard a prominent and wealthy businessman, known for his ruthless behavior, brag, “Before I die I’m making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Then I’m going to Mt.Sinai, climb to top and read the Ten Commandments.”
“I have a better idea,” Twain replied, “Why don’t you just stay home and keep them!”
Mark Twain’s terse retort highlights a great element of truth. It’s easier to talk about God’s commandments than it is to obey them.
The word of the week is obedience.
Each week we are considering a quality or characteristic of Christ that we need to emulate to become more like Him. To follow in His steps. And grow in our Christian discipleship.
The Hebrew writer affirmed, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”
The Son of Man who learned obedience, commands us to obey Him. Over one hundred times the Bible instructs us to obey. God says….
◆Obey the voice the Lord. (Deut. 27:10)
◆Children obey your parents. (Eph 6:1)
◆Citizens obey the ruling authorities (Titus 3:1)
◆Servants obey your masters. (Col. 3:22)
◆Christians obey the inspired apostolic letters (2 Thess 3:14)
◆Everyone is commanded to obey the gospel (I Pet 4:17)
“Obey” is not a warm, fuzzy word. It has a hard sound to it. We instinctively don’t like the command to obey. And the problem with obedience begins early in life. There is something within us that resists obedience. Our stubborn will. Our prideful attitude. Our fleshly nature. They come together and say, “I’ll do it my way.”
Obedience involves surrender. In fact, Rick Warren wrote, “Surrendering is best demonstrated in obedience.” But that’s not a positive word in our culture. We think of giving up. Quitting. Waving the white flag. We’re taught to compete. To keep fighting. To play hard until the end of the game. Surrender? No way!
Surrender, however, is at the heart of Christianity. Jesus asks us to surrender to Him. Our minds. Our hearts. Our lives. He challenged, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Lk 9:23-24).
Jesus surrendered to the Father by coming to this earth to be our Savior. He relinquished His rights in his earthly relationships. In his boyhood, he obeyed Joseph and Mary. When he came to be baptized of John it was not because he had sinned, but to fulfill all righteousness. In that act of obedience he showed surrender. He gave up his equality with God and emptied himself of his privileges while on earth (Phil 2:6-8). In His suffering He showed surrender. And, of course, the ultimate act of surrender was in dying for us on the cross.
It is too much for Jesus to request the surrender of our lives to Him? Surrender involves our spiritual service. When we obey him in our homes, in our social relationships and in our business dealings, we show the spirit of surrender.
The reality is that we all surrender to something or someone. Pleasure. Possessions. Power. Or maybe we just give in to the pressure of life’s struggle. However, as E. Stanley Jones wrote, “If you don’t surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos.”
The choice is yours. You can carry the weight on the world on your shoulders. Or you can give it up to the Lord. The song writer, John H. Sammis, was right when he wrote the lyrics….
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey,
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman