That little four-letter word…

Romans 2:13 says: For it is not those who hear the Word of God who are in right standing with God, but it is those who obey the Word who will be declared righteous.

It’s such a little word, obey, and to many it’s just another ‘four-letter word’ to be avoided at all cost. However, obedience is the key to so much that we desire from God: peace of mind, to live victoriously, to hear the Holy Spirit, to witness effectively, to name just a few.

In John 14:15-31, Jesus is talking to the disciples about the Holy Spirit and says point blank “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever–the Spirit of truth.” And then a few verses later, we read this: “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

Remember the hymn, ‘Trust and Obey’? It’s true! Google it and see how true it is. And if you want to know how important it is, think about this. Jesus’ last words to the disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), which is referred to as The Great Commission, says that we are to teach others to OBEY everything He has commanded. It’s not enough to know what He said, we must do what He said to be saved.

If you want your testimony to be effective, OBEY Him.
If you want your life to be pleasing to God, OBEY Him.
If you want to hear from God, OBEY Him.
If you want to be happy, if you want to be fulfilled, if you want to show God how much you love Him, OBEY Him.

If I were talking to you face to face, I would say this very quietly–it’s just that important: It’s not enough to hear the Word, you must obey the Word for God to live in you. My prayer is that you will trust and obey.

The Importance of Trust

The Importance of Trust

March 25, 2012

If you had a brother or sister growing up, you knew just about everything that went on in their life; and, depending on your relationship with them, I’m pretty sure you sympathized, or maybe even secretly rejoiced at times, when trouble came their way.

My brother Ronnie and I had different parents, but there never was a day that I felt he was anything less than my real brother, in every positive sense of the word.

The reasons were simple. We always ‘had each other’s back’—when things were good and when they were bad. When my brother talked to me, I listened; and when I talked to him, he listened. We understood each other, but the primary bond between us was an unshakeable loyalty built on the solid foundation of trust. He is gone now, but the lessons I learned in our relationship have stayed with me through the years.

In the summers we would escape to the woods behind our house to lay on the creek bank and share our dreams for the future and sometimes the fears about the present. And, in the winter we would climb the bales in the haymow to our secret room, which we walled in each year with fresh bales of straw. (It wasn’t totally secret because our dad sometimes climbed up to join us.)

My brother and I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that no matter what we shared during those times—the precious whispers of our heart or the harsh reality of our anger—our words would never become fodder for someone else’s ruminations. We were kindred spirits, fast friends, brother and sister, all rolled into one.

I know we were just two kids growing up on a farm in Indiana, but early on we developed a loyalty that many adults never know. Our mutual love and respect engendered trust, and so we learned to be trustworthy. Perhaps you had the same experience growing up. I hope you did.

Wouldn’t it be great if we never had to say to our brothers and sisters in Christ “Please don’t say anything to anyone” and they wouldn’t? Not even by sharing our concerns ‘in confidence’ with someone else? Or by mentioning it to us when other people are around?

We in the Family of Christ should never have to worry that what we have shared in private will ever be spoken publicly, whether it’s under the guise of a prayer ‘concern’ or just a slip of the lip. This nearly happened to me awhile ago, and it felt awful. I said ‘nearly’ because I was able to stop the person from revealing in the presence of others something I had shared in confidence.

By the way, when we open our mouths when we shouldn’t, we do a great job of conditioning people to keep their mouths shut when it comes to revealing needs, hurts, and yes, even sin. Is it any wonder that people don’t call us when they’re hurting and want someone to pray for them or maybe walk through the valley with them? Isn’t that what fellowship in the Family of God is supposed to be like?

There are consequences to our indiscretions when it comes to breaking a trust. Loose lips really can sink ships—ships like companionship, friendship and fellowship; discipleship, apostleship and leadership; and even worship.

Shouldn’t we be able to say to each other “Please don’t say anything to anyone…” and know that whatever we say will go only to God’s throne, and even then, not within anyone else’s hearing?

I firmly believe that God continues to call the Body of Christ to walk in honesty, openness and confession before Him and with each other—for our benefit, yes, but, additionally for the benefit of a world that is waiting for God’s people to rise up above their own self-interest and fulfill the Great Commission.

If we cannot trust each other enough to walk in honesty, openness and confession, how can we possibly think we can effectively reach out to a generation that, more often than not, describes the universal Church as:

  • Hypocritical
  • Pretentious
  • Irrelevant
  • Mean-Spirited
  • Judgmental

If we truly have a burden for lost souls, we will ask God to ‘do whatever it takes’ to prepare us to hear the darkest secrets, as well as the brightest hopes, of those He brings into our life to disciple.

My prayer is that someday I may say of all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, “We knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that no matter what we shared during those times, whether it was the precious whispers of our heart or the harsh reality of our anger, our words would never become fodder for someone else’s ruminations. We were kindred spirits, fast friends, and brothers and sisters, all rolled into one.” 

      I leave you with three questions to consider:

  • Is it possible for the Body of Christ to tear down the walls that keep us from reaching out to each other?
  • What will it take to do that—to engender trust between our brothers and sisters, so we may know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we, each one of us, are trustworthy?
  • Is that even possible?