The Cost of Obedience

ObedienceThere are many Christians who assume that if they obey God, He is obligated to bless them. This comes up in different forms:

  • God owes me this promotion because I have been tithing
  • God must save my son. I have been faithful in praying for him.
  • God ought to heal Aunt Mary in light of her many years of serving Him.

We are not always so crude, but the thoughts are often there.

But Scripture gives us another answer. In fact, Scripture makes it clear that obedience will sometimes be costly.

Last Sunday at Covenant I preached on Gabriel’s visit to Mary in Luke 1:26-38. I was once again struck by the young teenager’s response to the angel’s message that she was going to conceive a child even though she was a virgin – “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). I am amazed by her faith and her quiet submission in the Lord.

Did she know what would happen after that? Did she expect her obedience and submission to the Lord would result in things going well for her? What did she think when her family and then her betrothed did not believe her and assumed she had been unfaithful? What was it like when she was mocked and shunned by the rest of the community of Nazareth for being a loose woman? How did it feel to be absolutely alone with no one believing you except Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Zechariah who lived far away?

Mary’s obedience did not result in her experiencing an easy life. The rest of her life she probably put up with the rumors and innuendos about Jesus.

Later her Son faced the same thing. The whole point of the temptation of Christ was for Satan to give Jesus an easy way out. If He only yielded to Satan He would not need to take the long road of suffering. Just before the cross, Jesus prayed for release from what He knew he was about to face. But the Father’s will was plain and clear. Obedience for Jesus would be costly. He would suffer physically and much greater as he endured His Father’s wrath as he paid for the sins of His people.

Daniel was cast into the lion’s den for his obedience (Daniel 6:16). Daniel’s three friends earned the fiery furnace for their obedience to God (Daniel 3:21). Paul suffered shipwreck, beatings, abuse, stoning and other horrors for his obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).

So why obey? If obedience doesn’t guarantee blessing and ease then why do it? Because for the child of God there is no other life worth living. We have found the pearl of greatest price and we are willing to give up all for it. The light momentary trials of this life are more than compensated for by the eternal weight of glory that awaits us (2 Corinthians 4:17).

God is not obligated to give me what I believe I deserve. Instead, in Christ, He gives me what I don’t deserve – life, forgiveness, blessedness, and salvation. How can I give Him any less than my wholehearted obedience – no matter the consequences?

Today, may we live like Mary, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word,” no matter the results.

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