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Obedience and the Increase of Freedom

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We do not become more holy either by discipline or by dependence. Neither do we become more holy by committing ourselves to God, or by developing Bible-based convictions. We become more holy by obedience to the Word of God, by choosing to obey His will as revealed in the Scriptures in all the various circumstances of our lives. –Jerry Bridges, the Discipline of Grace

My children are not going to be more like me–to value what I value–because they are dependent on me for food, shelter, and clothing. It’s not a mental assent or wrangling that will produce that. They will become more like me as they obey the directives I give them.

Now, for me as an in-process person, that can be good or bad; but obeying our heavenly Father is never a limiting experience. Obedience promotes health and freedom.

I think too often obedience looks harsh because you can look at it in light of “don’t do this” and “don’t go there.” As a father I know more than ever, obedience is not about making compliant children. It’s about helping them make the choice that will produce the most benefit in their lives.

Why do I ask them to help with chores, to ask for forgiveness, to try their hardest, to put away electronics for a time? I know all those things will help them be the successful, well-rounded, imaginative people I know they are meant to be. There are skills and values I want to place as a priority for them because it will benefit them. It may feel limiting at times, but what is gained is greater than what is lost.

The more I obey my Father out of a right heart and spirit, the more I come to value what He values. I gain skills and set priorities based on what He has spoken instead of my traditions, culture, or personal desires.

There have been times God asked me and my wife to give away money we had saved for something else. At times, He asked us to go places we didn’t necessarily want to go. He asked to keep loving and fighting when it seemed impossible and overwhelming.

Was it because He was exerting dominance and showing us who was “boss”? No. With each new level of trust and obedience, He knows you are able to be trusted with more. It’s those other things–pride, lust, greed, wanting of power–that want to control you, not your Father.

I make a choice, let’s say, not to do drugs and stay physically active because I see the benefits much later in life. I want to be vibrant and capable many decades into the future. But when God puts His finger on something in our lives and we don’t see any immediate benefit to choosing His way, we can often allow terribly negative habits to control us.

“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
“With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.”  –Psalm 91:14-16

Jesus said, “if you love me, you’ll keep my commands.” Again, it’s not about your proving something or gaining through performance. It’s showing you value what He values; and the rewards are real, in this life and even more into eternity.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever struggled with the idea of obedience?


tdog_jbWelcome to week 11 of our book club discussion of The Discipline of Grace by Jerry BridgesWe are taking a sentence, paragraph, or passage that inspires, encourages, or challenges and writing about it. If you have a response on your blog, add your link to the widget below. Be sure to read and discuss my friend and co-facilitator, Sarah Salter’s post too. Whether you’ve read the chapter or not, please dive into the conversation!

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10 Comments

  1. It sounds counterintuitive today -- that freedom comes from obedience. Counterintuitive, but true, when we are talking matters of God. Thanks, Jason!

    • Exactly! If we can understand (as much as possible), perfect love will make perfect commands… We can see it and give our all to Him. Thanks so much, Glynn.

  2. God’s directives may appear harsh at times, but when we remember, as you so beautifully stated here, Jason, that God disciplines us for our benefit just as we discipline our own children in love, then it makes all the sense in the world to obey Him. That’s where we will find our true freedom and our true selves.
    Blessings!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..Two Roads DivergedMy Profile

    • He’s only interested in our having life and life to the full! Good thoughts, Martha! Thank you.

  3. This says it all: The more I obey my Father out of a right heart and spirit, the more I come to value what He values. I gain skills and set priorities based on what He has spoken instead of my traditions, culture, or personal desires.
    Bill (cycleguy) recently posted..IntentionsMy Profile

    • Thanks so much, Bill. Appreciate it! 🙂

  4. As a child, I was pretty compliant. As a teenager, I committed minor infractions like breaking curfew, cutting class a few times, but still mostly a good obedient child. It was later in my adult life that I wandered from God and His ways. Fortunately, because He loves me, He never let go, and got me back on the straight and narrow way. I have to say, obedience is by far the better path.

    Many people think that God is arbitrary in His laws and commands -- and that they are restrictive. I have come to understand that the laws and commands are there because He knows the humans that He created so well -- they are, in truth, protective.

    GOD BLESS!
    Sharon recently posted..“GIMME THE REMOTE!”My Profile

    • He’s protecting us because He loves us so much! So true. Thank you, Sharon. 🙂

  5. I think we all struggle with obedience. We’re all descended from Adam and Eve and it’s inherit in our fallen nature. It’s the wise person that seeks to be disciplined to the will of God in order to be truly free. Freedom in and to the flesh is slavery… just the opposite of the lost’s mindset.

    We all need to be reminded of our weaknesses and calling. Thanks for begin His mouthpiece!

    • I appreciate it, Floyd! You are an encouragement to me.

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