But Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”
(Part IV of Series- From Innocence to Purity)
Since the garden, man has struggled with whom he will obey. Will it be God that rules and reigns in our lives, or will we choose to disobey Him, and instead be our own master?
Obedience to God’s commands is of utmost importance, and more precious than our sacrifices.
In fact obedience is so important to God that He has chosen to make His truths evident to us when we sincerely seek Him. But instead we tend to “suppress the truth” and elevate our own selfish desires (Romans 1), rationalizing and excusing our own behaviors, and reacting to life by the sentiments that flow out of defiant hearts rather than hearts purified by Christ.
It’s rather simple to quote the words of Christ but far more difficult to live them out- in our office, in our home, with our children, in our private life.
But if we want our kids to have pure hearts than we must be serious about their obedience – and our own.
Frances. J. Roberts in Come Away My Beloved defined holiness as the “end product of obedience” and purity a result of “repentance and serious pursuit of God.” In other words, purity is not merely something that happens – rather it is obtained through daily obedience that flows out of the heart, regardless of what happens along the way.
Our kids must first see us embrace this ideal and then choose to embrace it themselves: that we get to the point where we willingly choose well in every circumstance – even if it costs us. Obedience ought not be conditional. In fact difficulty and disappointment will serve to test- and grow one’s commitment to obedience.
Don’t allow excuses for disobedience in your own life or in the life of your children.
Here’s a true story….
Six year old Sally had come with sisters to run the annual Little Foot Run, a fall event that her small community sponsored in which elementary age children would compete by grade levels for ribbons in a mile cross country run. It was a big deal to the local children. My kids looked forward to it each year. After the race, the winning competitors would strut around with their ribbons proudly displayed on their shirts. Sally wanted a ribbon but was not too excited about running the race. She knew that only the top ten competitors in every grade would get a ribbon. Sally decided not to run but devised a plan as she watched from the sidelines, cheering her friends on. When they came around the last bend in the run, she quietly slipped away from the group she stood with. Just as the young runners crossed the finish line and were funneled through to receive their ribbons, Sally crawled under the tape, slipped strategically into line and proudly accepted the 6th place ribbon.
I was stunned and stood by watching to see what my friend would do! Sally knew that what she did was wrong. So did her mom. But Sally wanted the ribbon more than she wanted to do what was right. Her mom wanted to avoid a scene more than hold Sally accountable. So a teachable moment slipped by. Sally not only kept the ribbon but bragged about getting 6th place to her friends, one of them being my daughter who, as a fierce competitor, struggled for quite sometime to forgive Sally.
This incident may seem insignificant, but small lessons and experiences add up to the formation of habits and character and step-by-step determine the path our kids will follow.
Is it ever right to do the wrong thing?
We must grow sensitive and obedient to the still small voice within that speaks to our hearts about what is right and wrong. In the major decisions of life, we probably hear more clearly. It’s in the daily stuff of life- what we do with our time, how we react to others, what we listen and attend to, what we worry and fret over – where we have need to become consistently attentive to the Holy Spirit. By actively listening and obeying, we will become more attune. The opposite however will cause our ears to grow deaf and our hearts to grow cold.
Our primary act of obedience is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and to pray without ceasing as we go about the day- to maintain a heart set on Him and hearing His voice. What would this type of obedience bring about for our families?
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33.
“Pray without ceasing.” I Thessalonians 5:17