“Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience,” wrote Thomas ‘a Kempis, the 15th century Scribe noted for his famous work The Imitation of Christ.
Oswald Chambers expressed it this way. “One step forward in obedience is worth years of study about it.”
Obedience involves a relationship. It has to do with submission to the wishes of another person. And it acknowledges their right of authority.
Parents want their children to learn the principle of obedience. And they desire “instant obedience.” Suppose you gave your child some instructions to carry out, and they looked up and said, “I’ll think about it”? Or “I’ll do it later when I feel like it”? No parent would be happy with that attitude. Or response.
Neither is God pleased when our obedience to him is delayed.
The sweet Psalmist of Israel, King David, penned regarding God’s Word, “I hasten and do not delay to keep your commandments” (Ps 119:60)
David was identified as a “man after God’s own heart.” Obedience reveals the nature of the heart. It exposes one’s motives. Intentions. And impulses. “Delayed obedience” exposes a selfish spirit. A rebellious attitude. And a lack of total commitment to the Lord.
In his commentary on the Treasury of David, Charles Spurgeon wrote,
“Duty discovered should instantly be discharged. There is peril attending every step which is taken in the indulgence of any known sin, or in the neglect of any acknowledged obligation. A tender conscience will not trifle with its convictions, lest the heart should be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Indeed there is danger in delay. In putting off what we know to be right. In procrastinating to fulfill our spiritual obligations to the Lord. Indecision can result in deadly consequences. Not just physically. But more importantly spiritually.
Adam Clarke claims the Hebrew word translated “delayed not” is “amazingly emphatic.” It speaks to an immediate determination to obey without dawdling or dilly-dallying around.
“If convictions begin to work, instantly yield to their influence,” urged Charles Bridges. “If any worldly or sinful desire is touched, let this be the moment for its crucifixion. If any affection is kindled towards the Saviour, give immediate expression to its voice.”
It is often observed that procrastination is the devil’s greatest tool. With it he tempts us to wait until tomorrow to obey God. For a better time. For a more convenient season.
The Bible tells about Paul preaching to the Roman Governor, Felix. He preached righteousness to a man who was unrighteous; self-control to one who was out of control, and the impending judgment, to a man who stood condemned by it. No wonder “Felix was afraid.”
Yet, Felix answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”
Felix never called.
Felix never obeyed.
“Now is the day of salvation.” “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”
“Delayed obedience is disobedience.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman