I remember learning at a young age that we show our love to God through obeying Him. This was a great concept for a child to learn as it inadvertently protected me from a host of evils and consequences growing up. Although my understanding of obedience was more legalistic and thus imperfect as a youngster, as I look back on my life I see moral obedience and avoiding known sin was still rewarded with blessing, protection, and laced in God’s provision. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalms 84:11).
In college I realized God wanted me to see the condition of my heart rather than myself solely through the lens of my behavior. For so long I was committed to moral commands without regard for actuation commands. Moral commands usually forbade me from engaging in certain behavior and sin while actuation commands would move me to action. Moral commands had resulted in behavior modification but while good and necessary had lacked the heart transformation. Actuation commands would change my life forever as they made me reliant on God. They required and resulted in a committed walk with Jesus.
Actuation commands required faith to move forward. They required me to lower my pride, forgive, risk rejection, be humbled, and walk outside of my comfort zone. They took the focus off of me and my ability and required 100% dependence on God’s power and strength. This type of obedience required putting all my eggs in the basket with God with zero safety net to fall back on. It required such a stance that if God didn’t come through for me, I would be doomed. Comfort and my illusion of control could no longer be my guide. My pastor rocked my world in 2006 after he said, “The desire to be comfortable ruins us.” For the first time I began to understand life with Jesus was an incredible adventure full of risks and conquering fears – the opposite of living life in my comfort zone.
Instead of solely obeying the “thou shall nots” and successfully “just saying no,” God showed me a full life and relationship with Him would require me to step out of my comfort zone, fully surrender every part of my life to Him, and obey His commands for me to make a move. In a matter of years, God pressed me to go on a mission trip, join and commit to a local church, start serving and tithing, read my bible daily, start a bible study, forgive, be vulnerable, admit my pridefulness, talk about my sin, and much more. Each of my obedient actions was preceded by a command from God with the majority of them against my feelings because they invoked insecurity and fear. Or selfishness. Or excuses. For example, I felt insecure about serving but knew I was being commanded to do it. After interviews and basic training, I just wouldn’t show up or answer calls because of my fears: of failure, incompetence, unworthiness. My desire to be comfortable paralyzed me. After obeying by showing up and committing to serving, God changed my insecurity to confidence and showed me dependence on His power and Spirit was all I needed. My relationship with him went to new depths and my purpose became even more clear. The commands that required the most trust of God’s promises and faithfulness were the ones that yielded the largest blessing.
Some commands will be no brainers that are foundational to all Christians and others will be individualized and require prayer and revelation. Often after we’ve obeyed obvious commands (salvation, baptism, join a church, tithe, serve, daily quiet time, etc.), that is when God will give us commands specific to our purpose. Furthermore, it is always an obvious command to stop and get out of known sin. We can’t pursue sin and Jesus at the same time. Commands specific to us aren’t generalized to all Christians. They are unique to you. But we can’t expect God to show us our next step without being faithful and obedient to what he has already asked us to do. If we know a step we should take in obedience and don’t do it or delay it, that is disobedience. If the bible says we show we love Jesus by obedience, then what does disobedience show? We are basing our actions off of our feelings and opinions and not on our faith, His truths, and our love for Him when we refuse obedience. God never tells us to obey what and when we feel like it; he demands us obey immediately regardless of our feelings and excuses. We will never walk in our purpose and potential and never know abundant life without taking our next steps of obedience. Our next steps pave the way through our purpose and potential.
Obeying Jesus out of love for Him is life-altering because we cannot truly encounter Jesus and all that he offers and remain the same. John 14:21 says, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” The deeper our love for Jesus, the more compulsion we have to consistently die to self and walk in obedience. Living this way will place us in such intimate daily fellowship with our Father, that we cant help but to become fully devoted followers of Christ desiring to glorify Him with our every breath. He will begin to individually instruct our every move to propel us into our potential and fulfillment through him, and we will desire to live to obey Him alone. The blessings we experience through walking closely with Jesus and delighting in His commands (Psalms 112:1) are unlike anything this world offers. As that old hymn says, “focus your eyes upon Jesus… and the things of this world will grow strangely dim.” If we love Jesus, we will walk in obedience to Him no matter the cost. As a result, we will see Him and experience his blessings in ways we could have never imagined.
- What step of obedience is God asking you to take today? If you don’t know, pray and God will reveal it to you. It may be a moral command, calling you out of a sin, or it may be an actuation command prompting you to take action.
“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” Lamentations 3:25