“And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.”
Genesis 33: 18
King James Version
Disobedience, Deceit, and Death”
“Obedience to God is always for our good and His glory.”
What comes to my mind when I hear the word, “obey?”
“The strength and happiness of a man (and woman) consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going that way, too.”
Henry Ward Beecher
“The cost of obedience is small compared with the cost of disobedience.”
What image comes into your mind when you hear the word, “obey?” For each of us, obedience means something different. Sadly, for some, remembering someone telling you to “obey or else,” put this word into the category we call “ugly and mean.” Way too often, we are made to think that the word “obedience” means we surrender and give up all our responsibility in order to do or to please another.
If we look at the root of the English word “obedience” we find it comes from the Latin obaudire, which means to “listen well.” In fact, I find it interesting that many languages do not have separate words for listening and obedience. Only in English do we separate these two words. What happens is that we laud those who listen and fear those who talk about obedience.
It may be this division is based on our concept that yielding the responsibility or our “will” to another is like giving up a core part of ourselves. If instead, we combine the words into the phrase “listening responsibly,” we would gain a new, fresh view of God’s desire and longing for “obedience” in His children.
Growing up, I found that if I took the time to listen to the reasons my parents gave me for some of their rules, I didn’t find obedience to be an arbitrary demand on their part, instead obedience became a protective shield that kept me from harm. I can’t tell you how many times I had to “obey” my parents rule about being home by 11:00 p.m. Period! No exceptions! As a young girl, I thought this requirement was unfair. And yet, just the other day, I heard my own voice advising my niece to be home early, “because nothing good happens on the highway after midnight.” Yes, those were my instructions. And it was through my own experience as a teenager, I found out that obeying my parents kept me out of a lot of trouble. But if I hadn’t listened to their reasons, I might have come away thinking they were arbitrary and demanding.
Unfortunately, this is how we often relate to God. He gives us advice and asks for our obedience, and we come to the conclusion He wants to keep us from having any fun. We label God as mean and harsh. A demanding God who wants to control us like puppets on a string, when in fact, He is the very God who created you and me with the power of choice – the greatest gift we have.
The reason we are looking at the word “obedience” today, is that in II Timothy 3: 16 (K.J.V), the Apostle Paul tells young Timothy, that all Scripture is given to us for a reason. Paul says: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is ‘profitable’ for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
If we break down the original Greek translation of this text it would read like this: “The Bible is divinely breathed to us and is advantageous (gives us an advantage) as we learn from the evidence that convicts, nurtures, and straightens us up again, so we live a truthful and just life.”
Why is this important to consider? Because as we study the lives of some of the women we will encounter over the next few weeks, we will find that their “obedience” or as I like to call it, their ability to “listen responsibly” was sorely lacking. Consequently, their willful, unheeding steps, led them into some serious trouble.
What we should find as individuals living in the 21st century is that God gave us these stories in the Scripture so we may learn from them. He shares these experiences which include the good, bad, and ugly so we will have an advantage as we make the responsible choice to listen to God’s advice, and obey Him.
Beginning tomorrow with the sad story of Dinah, we will find that disobedience led to deceit, which led to death.
No wonder our Heavenly Father invites us to hear and to listen. For when we choose to obey responsibly, blessings flow into our lives.
“Obedience is the road to freedom.”
C. S. Lewis
“The tiniest fragment of (listening) obedience and heaven opens up and the profoundest truths of God are yours straight away. God will never reveal more truth about Himself till you obey (listen) to what you already know.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus