By Jennifer Moreno and Jeremiah Model
1 Samuel 15:22, And Samuel said, “Has the LORD great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
It’s easy to get caught up in the perfunctory work for G-d, like having the anxiety to be righteous, trying to perform for G-d, or thinking that if you do better He’ll love you more. But these things are not the offspring of obedience but more the offspring of religious duties.
So what does obedience look like? Lets look at young Jesus to see an example of obedience. Luke 2:49 – “When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.’ And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’ But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. Jesus was of his Father’s business he was obedient to every thought of the Father in Heaven.”
Jesus was a great example to us about what obedience looks like, he always prayed to the Father, and He did His will. As believers we too are called to live a life of obedience to G-d.
Deuteronomy 11:26–28, sums it up like this: “Obey and you will be blessed. Disobey and you will be cursed.”
But what is being obedient to G-d? Biblical obedience means, simply, to hear, trust, submit and surrender to G-d and obey His voice so seek His will for you. But how can you be obedient if you don’t hear His voice or if you don’t know how He operates in your life? It’s important to position yourself to be in His presence to be able to hear Him.
That will require you to either meditate in silence, pray alone in your prayer closet, or worship and soak in the glorious presence, being still. Its as simple as asking the Father what he wants.
Obedience should never be based on trying to get G-Ds attention or favor. Because he already favors you and loves you.
John 14:15 is a great example of obeying in love – “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
It is imperative to understand this, the one who gives salvation as a free gift and created this world in wisdom, comes to live in your heart when He is accepted in your heart. We as followers of Messiah have full access twenty-four hours a day to receive from an abundant store house in heaven.
In Hebrew the word “Shema” means to listen, to hear, understand, to internalize, to respond. The Hebrew way is let’s do, obedience is to hear and do.
Lets take a look at the Hebrew prophet Hosea. In chapter 6 verse 6 – “The Lord spoke saying for I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of G-d rather than burnt offerings.”
The sacrificial system of atonement without an inner heart of love for G-d and one’s neighbors was never a part of the biblical understanding of G-d’s divine plan. The word ‘chesed’ in the Hebrew tongue means loyalty which corresponds to faithfulness to G-d as well as compassionate actions towards others.
The prophet Malachi gives an example of the opposite of obedience, these words highlight what the spirit of religion causes in Malachi chapter 1 verses 6 through 10 – ” A son honors his father, and a servant his master. But if I am a Father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is your fear of Me? says the Lord of Hosts to you priests, who despise My name.”
In other words, you don’t want to obey by feeling like you have to. Don’t come to the Lord with a heart of “I have to do this because you say I have to.” But rather approach and obey Him through love, tell Him, I do your will because I love you and you always know whats best for me.
Obedience should be led from the heart not the mind. All we need to do is abide in Christ, maintain our first love for Him, and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, and we will be in the will of God. If you are willing to trust and obey God and live a holy life, God will reveal Himself to you and direct your steps as a way of life.
Whenever you don’t know how to obey the Lord or simply need somewhere to start, just repeat these words like the prophet Samuel said in 1 Samuel chapter 3 verses 8-9 – “speak Lord for your servant is listening.”