How Obedient Are You?
And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
(1 Samuel 15:22)
Obedience is a tough word. Along with it comes other words that sometimes can make people cringe…compliance, conformance and the most dreaded word…submission. Now you’re thinking “I’m obedient. I take orders every day and comply with them.” Perhaps, but let’s take a closer look at obedience and see if we are truly being as obedient as God wants us to be.
In the scripture above, God had given King Saul specific orders on what to do with a certain king and his village:
1 Samuel 15:2-3
Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
Simple right? Spare nothing and get rid of everything. Unfortunately Saul had other ideas as we see in verse 9:
But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
Saul thought sacrificing the best of the livestock would please the Lord but the problem was that Saul thought. When it comes right down to it, Saul did what he felt was best as opposed to what God had told him to do not even considering there was a reason for God’s request to destroy everything. If you have an infection and only get rid of 98% of it as opposed to 100%, that infection will come back full force and this was most likely why God wanted everything to be destroyed. But somewhere in Saul’s thought process, he questioned God’s authority. In God’s eyes, this is rebellion and God does not tolerate rebellion. There was another one who did the same thing…Satan. He questioned God’s authority thinking he could do a better job than God. He wanted to take God’s position (Isaiah 14:13) and led a rebellion against the Lord and His army, only to lose and get kicked out of heaven and cast out into the earth (Revelation 12). Rebellion is not an option and we must strive to be obedient not only to God, but to others in authority as well. As we see, Saul did not do what he was told to do and disobeyed authority and God regretted making him king and therefore removed him as king and replaced him with David who God knew would do exactly as He wanted.
Are there times when following an authority figure could be wrong? Yes, when we are told to do something that goes against what God says to do in the Word of God. We see this in the book of Daniel when a decree is made that no one is to petition (pray) any other god or man for 30 days or they will be thrown into the den of lions (Daniel 6:6-9). Daniel did not follow this rule that was signed by the king and he instead went back to his room, knelt and prayed to God (verse 10) and when he was seen, he was thrown into the lion’s den. Because he was faithful to God, God closed the mouth of the lions and Daniel’s life was spared and glory was brought to God (verses 21-28). What also stands out is the way Daniel handled the situation. He didn’t become angry and verbally disrespect the king and those who manipulated the king to sign the decree. He didn’t leave his position in a huff and go elsewhere and talk about how bad his last employers were. He simply kept quiet and took the matter to God. He may have had to go through the consequences of disobeying the order of man, but in the end God vindicated Daniel, spared his life and received the glory. This was a specific situation but many times we will be called to do things by authority figures that goes against what we want to do or what goes against our opinion. This isn’t the same thing as the example above. This is where we have to be careful not to disobey because we feel we are right. If there is a difference of opinion then we obey our authority figure, but take the matter to prayer for God to bring resolution to the matter. Many times we react in emotion instead of reacting in prayer and end up causing division and more problems instead of taking the matter to prayer and allowing God to work and bring glory to himself.
So we know God is our authority figure, but who else qualifies as an authority figure?
Husbands – But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God (1 Corinthians 11:3)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)
Parents – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:1-3)
Bondservants – Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8)
Church leaders – Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrews 13:17)
Government (also could apply church leaders as a church is a spiritual government) – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. (Romans 13:1-5)
To each other – Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. (1 Corinthians 16:16)
submitting to one another in the fear of God. (Ephesians 5:21)
As we can see from scripture, it is important for us to be obedient because God requires it. We can identify the big ways of not being obedient, but what about the little ways? Here are some examples:
- 1. You and your husband have a difference of opinion on how something should be done and in the end he asks you to do it the way he would like it done. You become disobedient when you only half do what he request you to do and do some of it your way or worse, not do it at all. Remember, King Saul was only “half” obedient and God rejected him as king. Also, if your children see or hear you not listening to your husband and only half doing what he asks you to do, they will follow your example and do the same not only to him but to you and others. As parents, we must set a good example as our children are always watching our moves. If we disagree with a request, take it to the Lord but in the meantime be obedient to that request as we want the same respect.
- 2. When your employer gives instructions on an assignment and you feel your ideas are better and do some of it the way you want or add in or leave out some things. Even if these are so small they don’t notice, God will take notice of it and eventually discipline will follow. Nothing that is hidden will be hidden for long as it will be brought forth into the light (Mark 4:22). What if you put it off because it is an area that you struggle in (confronting people, asking others for their help, etc). It’s still disobedience. God will use the situation to heal you in that area if you allow Him too by being obedient to the request.
3. The speed limit says 65 but we push it to 70. Yes, it’s disobedience to the law and we all do it!
- 4. When a leader in the church or a ministry requests something from you and you don’t do it or you argue with them…disobedience.
5. Talking negative about your spouse, employer, or anyone to another person. We are in disobedience to God’s Word but we do this on a daily basis.
These are only a few examples, but there are so many more that we do on a daily basis that qualify as being disobedient that we just don’t think about. There is something we tend to forget that we must force ourselves to remember. God’s ways are often the exact opposite of the world’s ways because, as scripture states, Satan is the prince of the air who manipulates and twists God’s Word. He is the author of confusion and will cause you to rethink what God is saying and deceive you into thinking God doesn’t really mean it that way just as he did with Eve in the garden. In the kingdom of heaven, being a humble and submissive servant is the highest job. On earth, however, it is considered the lowest of positions. To be submissive in the kingdom is obedience. On earth, to submit to someone means you are a doormat and giving in to what they want. We are prideful when we refuse to submit to authority and think “they aren’t going to tell me what to do”. We even do this with those not in authority. Satan was kicked out of heaven for rebellion and pride. Romans 12:18 states the following:
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
How can this be possible if we have problems with submitting to God and others? Doing the opposite will cause us to live in division and strife.
Today, ask God to show you where in your life you are rebelling against authority. It could be something very small and you didn’t even consider. We all do it in one way or another. Is it with your husband? In today’s world the thought process is “I’m my own person and he can’t tell me what to do.” Remember who the prince of the air is. In God’s world we are to submit to our husbands because God placed them as head of the home and they are to submit to Christ as He is the husband’s authority. Unfortunately there are some husbands who take the scripture and use it to their advantage and in that case they are being disobedient to God as it states in Ephesians 5:25-28:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
If your husband isn’t at that point yet, do what is right through obedience and take the matter to the Lord and He will resolve the issue. Through your obedience to God and your husband you are setting a proper example and could win them over to God by your conduct:
1 Peter 3:1-2
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.
Taking matters into your own hands through arguing and rebellion will only lead to strife and division (except for matters of physical abuse where safety is a concern and one must leave the home).
Do you have a problem with people telling you what to do? This is a matter of pride and you must overcome it through prayer and applying the scriptures. Ask God to show you the root of the problem so you can understand it and work with Him to remove it.
Remember, there is no place for rebellion in the body of Christ and God will not tolerate it. Let the story of King Saul be a reminder and keep our focus on striving to be obedient children of God:
1 Samuel 15:23
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”
When we are obedient to God’s Word, he will bless us:
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God…”
Lord, I acknowledge that I have rebelled at times against you, my authority figures and others who have asked me to do things. I ask for forgiveness of rebellion and pray that you will remove rebellion from my heart and replace it with humble obedience. Help me to apply the Word of God in my daily life and to obey even when my flesh wants to go against when I’m told to do. Give me great discernment to know when I must disobey man only because it is going against the Word of God as Daniel did and help me to endure the consequences of my actions. Lord, I only want to bring you glory and honor. Help me to be a humble servant to you and to others. I ask it all in the name of Jesus.