When Obeying Is Hard to Do
I love so many of the instructions from God’s Word: Don’t worry. Love. Rejoice. Be free. Discover and develop your gifts. Help build my Kingdom. Tell people about my Son. Be filled with the Spirit. Ask, and keep asking. Know you are forgiven. And so many more.Some directives are more challenging: Love as Jesus loved. Forgive as God has forgiven you. Say thank you in the pain. Talk to that person about Jesus. Move across town or the country or the world. Don’t marry that person. Do this job. Etc.And then there are those commands about how we live in a sinful world: Be holy, as I am holy. Speak no unwholesome words. Speak truth in love. Don’t get drunk. Flee immorality—not even a hint. Set your mind on things above. Don’t cause your brother or sister to stumble. Let the light of Jesus shine through you. Glorify God in all you do. And so on.There is an amazing statement in 1 John 5:3: "This is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…."I do love God, and I so desire to obey Him. But sometimes some of His commands do seem burdensome, and I don’t want to do what God is saying to me. How can He say that it is not a burden? Look what Scripture tells us.1. The command is transforming.Romans 12:2: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."God will change our minds. His very Word teaches us a new way of thinking. As we increasingly are conformed, not to the world, but to God’s thinking, we will prove His will, His commands, to be good, pleasing and perfect.2. The command is my desire. It is? Yes, it is.Jeremiah 31:33: "'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the LORD. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.'"Ezekiel 36:25-27: “ I will put a new heart and a new spirit in you…I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees…”Wow! He not only changes my mind--He changes my heart. He writes His commands on my heart, and it becomes my deep desire to do what God has said. I want to obey. The problem is I live too often by my surface feelings. As I learn to look beyond what feels good for now to the true desire of my heart, God enables me, by His Spirit, to do what He says.3. The command is a promise.1 Thessalonians 5:24: " The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it."2 Corinthians 1:20: "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God."When God asks us to do something, He promises to give us all we need to do it. So no matter how difficult or challenging the command, it is really a promise. And God keeps His promises.He wraps it all up so well in Philippians 2:13: "…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."When the Word God gives us seems burdensome, we can know that it is not a burden because God is always working in us to give us the desire and the enabling, through His Spirit, to do what He asks us to do.Which of course makes it possible for us to follow this command: Rejoice always!