We have two dogs. We adopted our first one, Osito, as a puppy. Our second dog, Pepper, came some months later. The two, however, are very different. Osito is a mutt, while Pepper is a Miniature Australian Shepherd. Pepper is sweet and cuddly, but turns into a hyper maniac when outside with the birds. Osito, on the other hand, is more compliant and hates to get in trouble. He responds quickly to commands . . . unless it’s a command to get out of bed.
One morning I was ready to head out the door to work when I noticed Osito was still in his cage. Unlike Pepper, he’s not a “morning person” and will sometimes go back into his cage after I have opened the door to let them out. On this particular morning, I was in a hurry . . . and there lay Osito, snoozing.
A little annoyed to be detained, I coaxed him to come out, but to no avail. As a second resort, I reached in to grab his collar and pull him out. His response was to snap at me (out of character for him). I tried it three times, but he wouldn’t budge. By then I was getting angry. My next tactic was to pull the blanket out . . . hopefully with him still on it. No success. Osito stood his ground and out came the blanket with Osito still in the cage.
I was now very upset. Such a rebellious dog! I had only one last thing to try. I went to the rear of his large cage, lifted up the back, and dumped him onto the floor. Osito knew he’d been had. He dashed into the living room, tail between his legs. Needless to say, he got a spanking for that incident.
I still laugh when I think about this story, but I sober when I consider the many times we have done the same thing to God. How many times have we received commands from Him, yet promptly refused to do it?
The children of Israel were good examples of this. God, wishing to see His people succeed, gave them this promise:
“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. . .” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)
Though the love of God is unconditional, His blessings are not. A big “if” begins His list of blessings. It’s not an “if” that puts demands on Him; it’s an “if” that puts demands on us. That demand is our obedience.
Notice that it’s not just obedience for which God is asking. He’s asking for a certain kind of obedience, one that includes two challenging adverbs: diligently and carefully. It’s one thing to obey; it’s another to diligently and carefully obey. Diligent means to be “constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything.” To be careful means “taking pains in one’s work; exact; thorough.”
If we were promised a raise at work should we accomplish a task well, we would prove to be the finest example of careful diligence anyone could ask for! We would make a list and check it twice. We would arrive early and stay late. We would ask questions, and make careful note of all the details it takes to accomplish the assignment. We would put all our mental and physical energy into the project . . . and all for the sake a few more dollars added to our pay check.
If we are willing to work so meticulously for our earthly bosses, how much more should we strive to adhere precisely to God’s instructions? This is when it’s the most challenging to our flesh. Because we are so used to living by what we can see, taste, and touch, it comes more naturally to feel motivated by a physical boss and a wad of cash. Our obedience to God, however, is far more important. It impacts our lives through actions of faith based on something we cannot see. As Jesus said in John 20:20, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”
Just like we received Jesus as our Lord and Savior by faith, so we are to obey by faith. It may not seem logical to our minds to obey a Person we cannot see, or a Voice we cannot hear with our physical ear. But that is the life of a Believer; we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Regardless of whether we understand completely, we should be quick to obey, and slow to think twice.
Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good of the land.” Not only is God looking for careful diligence, He is looking for willingness. Willingness includes consenting without protest. A “Yes, Sir!” should follow our assigned instructions as a soldier to his commander. God should see our allegiance, despite our meager understanding, to His plan. He should never hear, “But God …” as that is rebellion and distrust of His ability to know best.
I am also happy to report that Osito learned his lesson from the “cage-dumping” experience and never did it again! He has since received many treats as a result of his instant obedience. The question now is – can we?
Though obeying the first time is a necessity, we may slip up once in a while. However, it’s never too late to learn from our moments of disobedience. We can choose grow in our submission as we learn to hear His voice and follow meticulously. As a result, the more compliant we are to God’s will, the less conflict in life we will receive. The quicker we are to obey, the sooner we experience God’s blessings! They are blessings “beyond anything we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!