So my son London, who is 4, has been learning some hard lessons lately. You know how 4 years olds can be. Anything having to do with the bathroom is hilarious and fun to yell in public (this is still funny to most adult males by the way). Even though it makes me giggle a bit (I am one of those males) my wife didn’t want this to continue so we came up for a consequence for what we call “potty talk” and it also serves as a consequence for lying or talking back which we are also in the process of teaching.
The consequence is a squirt in the mouth from “the bottle”. This bottle only contains lemon juice, but from London’s reaction he thinks it contains pure evil. This consequence has definitely minimized the “potty talk” and other verbal violations, but just as any parent I don’t want London to obey us simply because of consequence. Sometimes he obeys us because he doesn’t want a punishment and sometimes because he wants a reward that we have promised. But this is the foundation of obedience for a child. Ultimately, I want London to obey Jaclyn and I because he knows that we want what is best for him and because he wants to please us.
Often our obedience to God is similar. Sometimes we obey God instead of sinning not because we love God, but because we want to avoid the earthly consequence of sin. Other times we obey God because we want the feeling of perceived righteousness in our lives from doing the right thing instead of obeying because we believe that God loves us and because we love him. I say perceived righteousness because our righteousness comes from Christ and Christ alone.
Romans 3:9-10 – For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one”
Remember the Pharisees obeyed God, but with the wrong motives and Jesus condemned them for it. They did all the right things, but for the wrong reasons. They obeyed, but they obeyed to gain glory, prestige, and influence for themselves. They obeyed so people would think highly of them instead of thinking highly of God.
Matthew 22:27-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Ultimately, it’s more about the heart behind our obedience that it is about the act of obedience itself. We must obey God’s Word and Spirit, but don’t obey God because of your culture, your parents, or the consequences of sin. We need to obey God and his Word because he knows what is best for our lives, because he first loved us, and because we are overwhelmed by his amazing grace.
Scripture for Thought:
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.