“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.…Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” – John 14:21, 23-24 (NIV).
When you were a child, you may have sung a little chorus called “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock.” That song is taken from a parable in the gospel of Matthew, where Jesus explained the importance of building our lives on a firm foundation:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” (Matthew 7:24–27)
The lesson is quite simple. The wise person is obedient to the Word of the Lord. They choose to build their life on hearing and doing the will of God. When trials and temptations come, they are secure because their foundation is solid. The foolish person, on the other hand, hears the Word of the Lord but does not act on it. They too will face trouble at times and, having no foundation, they will collapse.
Obedience is literally foundational to the Christian life. No obedience, no foundation. Unless we are living in obedience to what God says, we have nothing to build our lives on or rely on when storms come. Obedience is a positive, active response to listening to the Word of God. “Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28)
We often think of obedience too narrowly—as the way we avoid getting into trouble based on our experiences with rules and rewards. As adults, we often think we can make our own decisions. But a mature response to God involves conforming our thoughts and ways to His desires.
In simple terms, obedience means hearing the word of God and acting on it. It implies aligning our will to God’s will; doing what God has asked us to do. It is when we completely surrender to His authority and base our decisions and our actions on His Word. Deuteronomy 29:9 says, “Therefore, obey the terms of this covenant so that you will prosper in everything you do.”
- How does obeying God affect our capacity to know God and to experience His love for us?
- Does your life give evidence that you love God? In what ways?