THE HIGH COST OF OBEYING GOD
We are all so interconnected and intertwined together within the fabric of God’s universal purpose that the minute one obeys Him, others immediately become affected. As a Christian, you can expect to endure all manner of persecution on account of your faith. Because of this, you may find yourself being tempted to keep quiet about the word God has given you to share. Or you may want to guard the word in an effort to protect it from those who do not appreciate it. Satan will use everything, and everyone, to test your allegiance to God. And God will allow some of these tests as an opportunity for your growth and to strengthen your resolve. Some of these tests will come in the most challenging of circumstances causing many to persecute you simply because they have had their feathers ruffled by your beliefs. When this happens, and it will, what will you do? Will you rise to the challenge? Are you willing to risk it all to obey God and allow the consequential chips to fall where they may? Your response to each challenge that is placed before you will reveal much about your true relationship with the Lord.
There will be many situations in life that will sneak up on you and catch you off guard. You may even be surprised by the way you respond to these circumstances when they happen. However your response will never be a surprise to God. He knows how you will handle every challenge that comes your way. Whether you choose to do the right thing or whether you choose to falter, God will use it all for His greater purpose. Yet, it is important for you to know that every decision you make will equal either a penalty or a reward for someone, as we ALL have to pay, in one way or the other, the high cost of obedience…
Living With Self & Death Of Self
There are two periods in the life of every Christian. These time frames combined make up the person you are as a whole. Each period plays an important part in your life. There is your life as it was once lived pursuing Self, before Christ (BC) and there is your life as it is currently being lived pursing Jesus Christ, after the death of Self (AD). Your BC life was necessary as it has enabled you to have a testimony. One is not separate from the other for without the prior, there would be no appreciation for the latter. One gives fuller meaning to the other.
To truly follow Jesus Christ is to live for Him with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind. However, this is impossible to do unless you have first crucified Self. You will know when you have successfully denied Self for it is only then that you will be able to successfully live for Jesus Christ. “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ (who) lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
Self vs Jesus
Living for Self is living to glorify and serve YOU through the pursuing of fleshly desires. These are pursuits that are contrary to the word of God. This is completely the opposite of living to glorify and serve Jesus Christ through the pursuit of God’s word. Are you willing to honor Jesus Christ by obeying God’s word? Are you pursuing God or are you pursuing YOU? Obedience to God is choice-less. This means you do not have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to doing what He says. You cannot say that you are living for Christ based on your own definition of Christianity. I hear people often say, “You honor God your way and I’ll honor Him my way.” However, there is only one way to honor God. That is according to His word, which is not negotiable or optional.
Obeying God is not always easy. However, if you truly love Him, obeying Him should be a pleasure. I have been a Christian for over twenty-nine years. When I made Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior, there was much in my life that needed to change. As I began to live my life pursuing Him, there was much that did change. In fact, thanks to Jesus, I am still changing. He is taking me through a complete transformation. The changes He makes never stops and they don’t all happen overnight. As God miraculously changed my heart, I saw a gradual change in me, and as I gradually changed, so did the choices I made for my life.
Though the changes in my life have not all been easy, none of them do I regret for they have all drawn me closer to the Lord and enabled me to have a witness that testifies to the wonderful love, grace and mercy of God. I consider it a privilege to have been called by God to serve Him and sacrifice Self for Him. Nothing, or no one, is too important to me that I would not be willing to give it, or give them, up if He asked me to do so. Everything that God has given me, or has removed from me, has worked, or is working, towards my ultimate good and towards His ultimate will for my life – as He promised me it would. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NLT).
You Have An Obligation To God
In my relationships with my family and friends, there are times when I feel it necessary to keep my own personal opinions to myself, that is unless my opinion is solicited. However, when it comes to sharing the opinions of Jesus Christ, I see things quite differently. As a Christian, you have an obligation to God to share your faith with others. God gives you the opportunity to honor Him by demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ to the world. When you do this, you are engaging your relationship with God through your obedience and giving others the opportunity to be blessed in the process. It is important to know that your obedience may cause you to become a target for conflict, disagreements and ridicule. Yet, be encouraged for God’s word says: “I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when He comes to set up His Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
Love Requires Action
Jesus was asked by one of His disciples: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 (NLT).
Many people confuse love with emotions and feelings. Love is not a feeling. Love is a decision you make. It is a decision that requires action for it to manifest. There is no better way to demonstrate love for someone than to obey God by sharing His Son. However, as it is when you give any gift, not everyone can or will appreciate the value of your sentiments. You never know how someone will receive a gift you give. Those who see and receive the beauty and extravagance in the gift of Jesus Christ will be eternally blessed. Those who don’t won’t. This is why it is so very important and worth any amount of inconvenience or ridicule you may have to experience to give it.
You Can’t Save Anyone
Allow me to make something perfectly clear. You sharing Jesus with people does not save people. As a Christian, you are only a vessel that God uses to plant a seed through. It is up to God to water that seed and bring forth fruit. It is not your responsibility to save anyone. You couldn’t do it if you wanted to. That is God’s job. In fact, no one can come to the Lord unless He draws them to Him. The Bible tells us that those few who find God will “enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to Hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT). Because of this fact, it makes sense that everyone will not be able to accept Jesus when you share Him. So, don’t be surprised when they turn you away.
Leave The Consequences To God
So, what do you do IF obeying God causes others to be uncomfortable or even suffer? The truth is that your obedience to God WILL cause others to be uncomfortable as well as suffer. There is no avoiding that. However, know that you are ONLY responsible for your obedience. You must leave all the consequences that will follow to God. He does NOT hold you responsible for what happens as the result of your obedience. However, He does hold you responsible for what happens as the result of your disobedience. Remember, God is sovereign. EVERYTHING is under His control.
God’s Word Is Alive!
God’s word is alive… “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12. (NLT).
God’s word is a living demonstration of His power. It speaks of His law over everything in and outside of this world. God’s word also rules over each and every person, regardless of their belief in Him. “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with My word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 (NLT).
Because God’s word does not come back void, His living word carries with it costs, or consequences. Those who obey God are positively affected through these consequences which are called blessings. Likewise, those who disobey God are negatively affected through these consequences which are called curses. And yes, God does curse people. “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on Heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)
Are You Willing To Pay The Price?
Your obedience to God will require your willingness to give up plans, give up people and possibly even give up your life. Though many profess to love God, many are not willing to make that sacrifice. “Jesus was aware that His disciples were complaining, so He said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe Me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and He knew who would betray Him.) Then He said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to Me unless the Father gives them to Me.” At this point many of His disciples turned away and deserted Him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” John 6:61-67.
Are you willing to pay the high cost of obedience to God?