If you’ve had a two-year-old in the family, you know that the heart of man is prone to disobedience.
“Don’t ride your big wheel in the street,” my husband said to my son.
“But I want to,” replied the two-year-old.
“You may not,” answered the voice of authority.
“I’m gonna,” was the reply as he sailed off on his big wheel across the street.
We laugh about this story, which is a family favorite, and we laughed at the time, even though justice was meted out in such a way as to teach our son to be wise in the future.
(No, that’s not my son in the two-year-old picture above, but my grandson Judah at age two.)
But the thing that I want to bring to our attention is not that our young children need to be taught to obey, but that we grown ups must be taught to obey as well. All the time.
Think about the children of Israel as they followed Moses into the wilderness. God provided manna for them to eat, but gave very specific instructions, kind of like, “You may not ride in the street.” And they replied, “I’m gonna.”
“And Moses said, Let no man leave of it [manna] till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them” (Exodus 16:19-20).
“And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none” (Exodus 16:25-27).
When we read this about the Israelites, it is not nearly as funny as my son on the big wheel. Children must be taught and instructed to obey. And the reason we want them to learn to obey us, their parents, is so they will obey God when they grow up. Disobedience might be cute when they’re little, but it is not cute at all when they are grown ups.
So what’s my point? Just a reminder to us all to obey God on all points. The Great Commission is a three-fold charge: make disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and teach them to do “all things that I have commanded you.” (Mt. 28:20).
If He says don’t leave it till morning, then don’t leave it till morning. If He says do not commit adultery, then there it is. Clear as a bell. The more we obey, the more grace we receive to keep obeying. And if we love Him, we obey His commands. Reinterpreting His commands to fit our desires is not obedience, and it’s not love. When we fail, as we will, He tells us what to do: confess our sins. That is obedience as well.
In short, obedience is not the same thing as “works.”
I was trying to persuade a woman to see that if you are going to follow Christ, you must do what He says. I said something like, “If God’s Word told me to wear pigtails, then I would wear pigtails.”
She quickly replied, “Well I wouldn’t.”
Exactly. That’s my point.