1 John 2:3-6, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”
If JMan is playing in the road and I see a car he doesn’t, I’m going to tell him to get out of the road immediately! If he only moved to one side of the road, this is disobedience, and he can still get hurt! His life may depend on his COMPLETE obedience of my command to him.
If JGrizz isn’t supposed to be on his phone after a certain hour, but he decides that he’s Just got to make one more phone call 30mins later, that’s still disobedience; even though, he is only making one call. Now, this one phone call of disobedience might not cost him his life; yet, it could possibly lead him down a path that, later on, he’ll wish to God he hadn’t taken! No matter how big or small the “event” may appear in the moment, disobedience always comes with a cost.
Sometimes, I think we act this same way with God. He gives us a directive, even a command in His Word, and we obey it, but only to a certain extent. We obey, but only till it costs us a little more than we’re willing to give. We might even try convincing ourselves that we are obeying Him, because, “after all, He doesn’t really want us to be suffering or unhappy, does He?”
Abraham was told to take his promised son, Isaac, on top of mount Mariah and sacrifice him. God didn’t tell Him the outcome. God didn’t say to him, “Well, you can take a little lamb with you, too; so, you’ll be convinced, ahead of time, of my provision.” No, all Abraham was told to do was take his son up the side of a mountain and kill him!!
Now, I don’t know about you, but honestly, I can’t say, right now, that I could happily comply with that! Abraham obeyed to the full extent, and it looked as if his full obedience would cost him his dream! This dream for which he had hoped and believed for YEARS…God told him he would father nations when he was 75…Sarah birthed Isaac when Abraham was 100 years old!! … That’s 25 YEARS!! God then told him to sacrifice his dream. That’s some heavy obedience which he did; yet, Abraham FULLY BELIEVED God would fulfill and keep His promise to him!
I wonder if we often hesitate to fully obey, because we don’t fully believe… Sure, we believe when it’s easy. We believe when things are good, but what about when He tells us to speak His name to a nonbeliever who might just ridicule us? What about when He calls us to a ministry that might be a little scary when we’ve got to leave our home, our family, our friends, maybe even our homeland? What about when He asks us to give Him our whole tithes? You know, not just the “extra, off the top of a recent overtime weekend,” tithes, but that consistent 10% when our weekly budget barely cuts it now? What about when He leads us to give up that meal to spend the hour in prayer with Him? There are so many more I could list…
THAT kind of obedience can be challenging, can’t it? That kind of obedience can make us dig down deep, not just in our pockets, but in the depths of our soul. We have to ask ourselves in that moment, “Do I really trust God enough to obey Him? Do I really believe the promises He’s given me?” In His Word, He promised us, time and again, that when we obey, there are things He will do. We just simply have to believe and to obey.
Let me give you a few examples:
“…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land.” Leviticus 25:18
““Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7
I know, I know, these are just OT commands, right? After all, we “live by grace now,” right?? …maybe you’d like for me to give a few NT Scriptures instead…
“Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” John 8:51
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13
I have found, when we half-way obey Christ, too often, we miss His BEST for us. We miss out on His joy, His peace, His rest. Sometimes, just as I gave the illustration of my son getting halfway out of the road, when we just obey God half-way, we might even put ourselves in harm’s way! God doesn’t give us commands to follow simply to control us or to make our lives miserable. He gives us instruction to protect us, provide for us and to give us the very BEST He can give us!! Our complete obedience is for our complete good!
Partial obedience is still disobedience, but oh, the sweet promises we enjoy when we give Him our full obedience!!
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:10-12 (italics, mine)