March 19, 2020
All DayCategory: Lenten Devotional
The Joy of Obedience
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:9-12).
According to secular thinking, there is no way obedience and joy can go hand in hand. Obedience means you don’t have the freedom to choose and that, in turn, must mean that there is no happiness or even basic satisfaction, never mind joy. Most people will tell you that while obedience is a good thing for children, it is oppressive in an adult context and portrays a lack of freedom.
In stark contrast, the Bible says that the opposite is true: obedience and joy do go hand in hand. In fact, Jesus says in today’s passage that obedience is actually a prerequisite for joy.
When we sin and thus disobey God, we lose the joy that comes from him. When David sinned against God with Bathsheba, he lost his joy and realised that it was due to his disobedience. He therefore cried out to God in despair to restore it. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit (Psalm 51:12).
Why are both obedience and joy relevant in the Christian walk? I must remind you, at this point, that our obedience does not qualify us for salvation, which is a free gift from God. We can never earn it by our good works. However, obedience is critical in the life of a Christian because it is an act of worship — it demonstrates our love and faith in God and it also glorifies God. And the Bible is very clear throughout that God blesses and rewards obedience. Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him (Psalm 128:1).
But it doesn’t stop there. As we obey God, we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us to live holy lives and we start spending more time with God in prayer as well as in reading his Word. This is known as the process of sanctification; it ushers in our spiritual growth. The result is an obedience out of the gladness of our hearts and not out of compulsion. As we go through this lifelong process, we start to reflect on the Lord and become joyful just as he is joyful. The Bible says that joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). That divine strength is very much needed to persevere in faith in trying times and to resist the temptation to disobey.
I pray that your obedience is throughout the year and not just for these forty days. The next time you think obedience portrays a lack of freedom, remind yourself of the following verse:
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom(2 Corinthians 3:17).