December 19, 2012

Obedience speaks

Actions speak louder than words. Is that true? Ask the wife whose husband declares love but never buys her gifts and often stays out late at nights. Ask the person who has heard promises yet never seen them carried out by the promise maker. 

In Christianity, saying one thing and doing another is called hypocrisy by those observing. At best, God calls it disobedience. He tells me if I love Him, I will keep His commandments. When I read and really understand what He is saying but do not do it, how can I say that I love Him?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22–25)

Day after day, year after year, I come to my Bible in the morning and read the words of God. Much of the time He gives me instruction for living. The older I get, the more I realize how much I have looked intently, but at the least have forgotten what I look like. Sometimes I remember, but walk away without letting it change how I behave. While I do not sympathize with those called hypocrites, I understand this behavior.

Excuses are easy... Sin is too strong. Life is too filled with temptation. I’m only human. (Jesus was a perfect human and always obeyed.) Instead of making excuses, God asks me to do something. Instead of talking (or writing) about all the things that He teaches me, He would rather that I show by my actions that I get it, that I respond to Him with more than words.

Obedience is not as easy. It calls for admitting and abandoning pride. It also involves sacrifice, perhaps time, money, other resources. If I obey God, I have to give up what I’d planned doing. It might also mean going against the approval of family and friends, or society in general. Obedience could mean acting in ways that the rest of the world thinks are foolish or a waste of time and energy. It could mean losing face.

Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28) God said the same thing to Joshua…

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)

The odd thing about disobedience is that those who ignore God often do it because they want ‘prosperity’ and ‘success’ — the very thing promised by God for carefully doing all that He says. 

My conclusion? Too often, I am a very foolish person.

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