One day... a woman went to the post office to mail an old family Bible to her brother, who lived in another part of the country.
When the woman placed her package on the counter, the postal clerk asked, “Is there anything breakable in here?”
To which the lady replied, “Only the Commandments.”
We talk a lot about obeying God... about NOT breaking the Commandments... because God’s Word talks a lot about obeying God.
Of course, to obey God, is to show our love for God (Jesus himself said as much! John 14:15).
If obedience doesn’t cost us anything, it really has no hope of proving the depth of our love for God.
C. S. Lewis, in his famous work “Mere Christianity”, said, “[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that he says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus... if you have really handed yourself over to [Christ], it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of heaven is already inside you.”
The lack of obedience reveals a lack of trust in God in our hearts. Do you and I trust God, even when it’s not easy? Even when we have something to lose? It’s important to make that decision now, versus waiting until that moment arrives.
How many of you have seen the movie “Courageous”? In the movie, there’s a scene where a young man finds himself “between a rock and a hard place” when his new boss (at his probationary job) asks him lie about some numbers that would benefit the company. Later, the young man learned that the boss’ request was just a test... a test of his integrity... a test he passed, as he refused to lie... and was rewarded with a promotion.
This young man had to decide what was more important: his boss’ favor and his new job... or obeying God. He had to trust God with the consequences of doing what was right, and in the end, God blessed him for it.
God builds up our faith as we experience life with Him. We actually learn to trust God by, in fact, trusting God! We learn to obey God by obeying God!
By the time Daniel had to face the lion’s den, he had already experienced God’s favor and deliverance because of his obedience to God.
Back in chapter 1, Daniel and his friends refused to eat the food from the King’s table because the food was considered unclean according to the Hebrew law. Daniel and his friends stood against the popular opinion - they resisted “group think” - and “going along to get along” by courageously refused to eat based on their convictions, even though all the other young men had no problem eating what the King provided. And, honestly, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal! I mean, we’re talking about food... we’re talking about eating what’s provided (and how many times have we been told to eat what’s put in front of us!?)
Of course, because of Daniel’s obedience, and faithfulness - his integrity - God exalted Daniel and his friends and gave them wisdom beyond their years, and favor with the king.
If we take the opportunities God gives us to obey when the consequences seem small, we will find that we’re building the courage and faith we need, when later on the obstacles are bigger, and much more is on the line.
And trust me... the challenges WILL get BIGGER! We will all face “Lion’s Dens” of our on at some point. So we need to acknowledge that fact... and allow God to prepare us for that moment(s).
It’s kind a like lifting weights. I talked about Morgan the other week being a wrestler in school. Well our oldest son Matthew, was into weight lifting in school. He actually took weight lifting classes to help fulfill his physical education credits.
And just like when lifting weights... you start with lighter weight, and gradually build up, until you’re able to lift heavier and heavier weight... faith and courage work much the same way. They grow and they build up through continued exercise, and use. God will build up our faith when we respond to the opportunities he gives us with obedience.
I know I’m on a movie kick today, but the movie “Chariots of Fire” tells the true story of an Olympian named Eric Liddell who disqualified himself in the hundred meter race because he felt it would dishonor God by running on Sabbath. Instead of running the 100 meter, Liddell chose the 400 meter instead, because it didn’t take place on Sunday. And despite the fact that Liddell wasn’t even expected to medal in the 400 meter, he won the Gold at the 1924 Olympics. While many had no problem... and saw nothing wrong with running in the Olympics on a Sunday, Eric Liddell’s choice not to run, is a rare example of someone motivated by faith… rather than fame.
It’s not always easy to follow God’s call when all the voices and opinions around us are saying something altogether different. We find ourselves in a wold where the voices of opposition are at fever pitch!
Liddell’s life is a great example of someone following God’s call even when it’s not easy. It’s a story still remembered today... still inspiring us, to live our faith with integrity, and courage.
You know... if we obey God even when we’re ostracized for it, God will receive glory from our lives.
And bringing glory to God is what life’s all about...
The Westminster Shorter Catechism: What’s the chief end of man? Why are we here? “To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
God will use our obedience to stir up questions of faith in those who are around us, even bringing some to know of him because of us.
And there’s no better way to bring glory to God.