Obedience With a Promise

Most of us can remember from our childhood how our parents told us to be obedient. In Sunday School, we probably memorized the verses from Ephesians 6:1-3, “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.’” We may not have fully understood what this verse meant, but we were reminded of it again and again throughout our childhood. We might have asked ourselves: Why does God care that children obey their parents, and why did He connect it with a promise?

Having become a parent almost ten years ago, I can better understand why children should obey their parents and why God reminded them to do so. As a parent, I carry the primary responsibility for my child’s wellbeing, and therefore I make rules designed to keep my children safe, to keep my household running smoothly, and to encourage behavior that is respectful and courteous to all. When my children are obedient, my heart is filled with joy, and I take great pleasure in hearing about their obedience even when I am not there to observe it myself. As parents, we want our children to obey us out of their love for us, trusting that we know what is best for them. We prefer they obey, not out of fear of consequence or for a promised reward. We are both displeased and saddened when our children disobey.

I am convinced that one reason God stresses the importance of children obeying their parents is because, ultimately, He wants us to be obedient children to Him, our heavenly Father. This promise, “that it may be well with you,” is a promise of protection and blessing. If we obey our parents as children, their rules will protect and shield us from various harms, and the trusting relationship we will be able to enjoy with them will be a blessing to us. When we translate that into our spiritual relationship to God, we recognize that our obedience to His commands protects us from all kinds of harm, and the blessings that flow out of a good relationship with Him are abundant.

The Bible makes it clear that God values obedience very highly. Jesus told His disciples, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). In the Old Testament, we also find numerous examples of how God reiterated the value of obedience above any kind of burnt offering or outward display of devotion to Him. When King Saul disobeyed God’s commands and tried to hide it with a burnt sacrifice, the prophet Samuel said to him, “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 heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:22-23). 

Beyond obeying the Lord’s commands to love Him above all and to love our neighbor as ourselves, I believe the greatest step of obedience we can take today is offering ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice. This means that we surrender ourselves in total and complete obedience to His will in every single aspect of our lives. Paul explains this perfectly in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” This offering of ourselves is putting our love for God into practice by giving Him complete control over our lives. In doing so, we set ourselves apart for His purpose, and He fills us with His Spirit. At Pentecost, God’s children were gathered together, praying as one for His will, and in submission to Him. He responded by pouring out His Spirit, who then directed every aspect of their lives, leading them to spread the gospel to the world and emboldening them to live for Him without fear.

God has the same desire for His children today. He wants children to learn to obey their parents so that as they grow, they learn how to be obedient to Him as well. He wants them to display their ultimate obedience to Him by offering themselves as a living sacrifice to His will and His service.

Perhaps you are thinking to yourself, “That is too much to ask! I am young, I have plans, I have dreams, I seek adventure.” Let me assure you that this is an aspect of our “reasonable service.” It is no more than what God deserves from us. Beyond that, a life in bold and surrendered service to God is more fulfilling, more exciting, more filled with adventure and satisfaction than any life we could choose for ourselves. God created us, He knows our hopes and dreams, but when we surrender those to His will, He makes them even better!

Karina Knelsen

Hamilton, Ontario

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.