Tuesday, October 23, 2007

First Time Obedience?

The other day I went to pick up my little boy from preschool and I asked his teacher how he was doing. She said, “Sam needs to work on first time obedience”. I told her that we would help him in that area immediately. As I drove away from the school firmly telling Sam about the error of his ways a gentle nudge came my way. “You need to work on your first time obedience too Chris”.

“Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:” Jonah 3:1 (NIV)

How many times does it take for you to obey God’s voice? Are you a first timer? 2nd? 3rd? 4th? 5th?

I am fascinated by God’s parenting approach. I can get pretty hot after asking my son several times to respond and does not. But isn’t it interesting that when God comes to Jonah a second time He does not remind him of his previous failure, He make no mention of being rescued from death, nor does He make sure Jonah remembers his vow. In fact, there is no hint of anything but grace as God reinstates Jonah to his mission. He does not even warn him of the consequences if he tries to run again. It would be a gross understatement to say that God is patient and gracious.

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; Psalms 103:8-13 (NIV)

Does this make me more passionate about God or less? Does seeing God like this inspire reverence and loving obedience? OR do I despise the riches of His goodness?

4 Don't you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don't you care? Can't you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin? 5 But no, you won't listen. So you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself because of your stubbornness in refusing to turn from your sin. For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world, 6 will judge all people according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism. Romans 2:4-11 (NLT)

I am thankful that God does not always spank when I don’t obey the first time. I need grace not to take Him for granted. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments”. May we love Him with our obedience. May we have grace to even obey the first time!

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