Why do we obey? When we are told to do something, we always have the choice to obey or refuse. There is a middle course- obey the order but don’t do it the way we were told. That isn’t really refusing, but it’s pretty darn close to it.
In the military you obey for one of two reasons: the first reason is if you don’t, you get in trouble, which can mean anything from losing free time to losing money to going to the Brig. The second reason is that you trust the officer giving the order and do what he or she says out of respect, and knowing that what they are asking you to do is for a good reason. You don’t have to know their reason, you just have to trust that they have a good one.
At the workplace (I think) most obey in order to keep their job- obedience from desire to remain out of trouble. And yet, as above, obedience does often come from knowing the manager has a good reason, respect for the person and trust that they know things need to be done in a certain way because that is the best way to do it.
We obey traffic laws so we don’t get a ticket, but overall we recognize that when everyone drives lawfully we protect ourselves and others. This obedience comes more from a desire for self-preservation than from respect for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
However, whether in the military, at the workplace, or even within a family unit, some people will refuse to do what they have been told to do and make excuses, saying someone else told them a different way, they didn’t understand, they got bogged down with other work and will get to it soon, yadda-yadda-yadda. Nearly everyone can find an excuse for not doing what they were told that will not result in them getting into too much trouble.
If you have been agreeing with me so far, I hope we can agree that when it comes down to it, there are two different motivations for obedience:
- To prevent getting into trouble; and
- Obedience that comes from respect and trust for (maybe we can add desire to please) the one telling you what to do, whether or not you understand why.
Now….what about obedience to God? What is the main motivation for that? As we said above, it is either because we fear retaliation (going to hell) or because we trust in God that what He tells us to do is for our benefit and that He knows what He is doing.
Oh, wait! Let’s not forget those “middle-of-the-road” types that will do what they want to do and refuse to do what they don’t want to do, then find excuses for disobedience. Such as, “My Rabbi/Priest/Pastor/Minister told me I don’t have to do that anymore”, or “That was just because of health reasons, but we have better medicine today and things are cleaner”, or “The men who wrote the bible are chauvinists”, or the the one I really can’t stand,”That’s for Jews only; we are Christians and don’t need to do that because Jesus overcame it.”
Oy!! I really can’t stand that excuse, which is totally man-made by people who refuse to do what God says simply because they don’t want to, then use Jesus (real name- Yeshua) as their excuse, ignoring the truth that He did those things, Himself, and preached that everyone should.
When you obey God’s word, do you obey what He told Moses or what the Elders (in Acts) said Gentiles need to do? If you read the entire bible, you will see that everything the Apostles (in Hebrew they are called “Talmudim”) did and preached is all based on the Old Covenant writings, including the laws of Moses, and they never, ever said that Gentiles accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah don’t have to follow the same rules and regulations as the Jews. That’s because there were no other religions that worshiped the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (BTW- He’s the same God of Jesus) that weren’t pagan. There were Pagans, and there were Jews, and the Jews worshiped God as God said they were supposed to. The same rules He gave Moses are the rules we are ALL told to obey.
God has no religion, only rules, regulations and commandments that are designed for our good. OUR good- not His. I mean, really- He’s God, the All Powerful, the Creator of Everything, the One and Only Almighty: do you really think there is anything, anywhere, that we humans could do or give Him that He can’t get anywhere except from us?
There is something God can only get from us: our worship, devotion and love.
I don’t obey every commandment, neither do you. None of us can, which is why Yeshua had to sacrifice not just His life on earth, but His divinity, too. But I try to obey, and more than that, I really, really want to be as obedient as I can simply because God asks me to do these things, and I trust God to know more than I do what is best for me. I also respect God, and as such want to do what he says I should out of respect for His justifiably absolute authority. Don’t think I am bragging- I try, but I fail, much more often than I succeed, but what I can boast about is that because of God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), which leads me, I can obey more often than I ever did. I’m still not very good at obeying, but I am getting better at it, and that is not from fear of reprisal, but from fear of the Lord (in the biblical sense, which means to have an awesome reverence for God.)
Obeying just to avoid going to hell is better than not obeying, but it is like the good seed falling on the poor soil, which never takes root deep enough to last during tribulations. If you obey only what is easy to obey, only what you don’t mind obeying, and only because you don’t want to go to hell, then your obedience is probably not going to be enough when the fecal matter hits the air circulation unit. The enemy will offer you a much better program, one that will let you pick and choose what you want to do and promise eternal reward for it. Trust me- it’s a lie; anything worth having is worth working for, and if you are promised great rewards for doing nothing hard, you are going to be very, very disappointed.
Think of all the wonderful things God has done for you- and even if you are homeless, sickly, distraught, lonely, whatever- even in those sad and unhappy conditions, God has made sure that you are still here: you still have hope for things getting better and you can always turn your life around. God will help if you ask for it, but you need to get off your tuchas and work at it. The bible tells us that salvation is not easy, that obedience is possible but very hard, and that suffering will ensue as you strengthen your relationship with God. It only makes sense- the world we live in is cursed and under the authority of the enemy, so anything ‘Godly” is out of place. So what? God is more powerful than the enemy, and even if the enemy attacks you and destroys everything you have (as he did with Job), God can replace it, easily, and give you even more than you had. And what God can do for you eternally the enemy can’t even come close to doing.
Obey from love, obey from respect, obey from desire to please God (a labor of love, so to speak) and obey every commandment you can. Do all that God said we should do (which is every commandment and regulation found between Genesis and Revelations) and never give up trying to do better.
That kind of obedience will be more than enough.