Have you ever been thoroughly frustrated with someone only to have the Holy Spirit convict you of doing the same thing? A friend of mine recalls asking her children, “Why can’t you just obey me the first time I tell you to do something?!”
We have all fallen short of obeying God the first time He tells us to do something, whether He communicates to us through the Bible or whether we hear His still small voice speaking to our hearts.
Puppies Love Treats!
Training Ramsey (our golden retriever) as a puppy was no easy task, but doggie treats made it easier. She learned to sit, stay, come, and shake quickly. The trainer told us to slowly begin giving treats intermittently instead of every time our dogs obeyed. So, instead of giving Ramsey a treat for every time she sat on command, I should have given her a treat every other time, then every third time, and then sporadically here and there. A trained dog should do what his master says whether there is a treat involved or not.
Well, I just love giving treats to Ramsey. She gets so excited and it warms my heart to see her chomp down on her sausage balls, Pupperonis, or Canine Carryouts (not too expensive and doggies love them!). The only problem is… I never backed off from treating her for every “good work.” Instead of obeying me because I was her master, she learned to obey me because I would give her something in return.
Eric is a different story. He has trained her to obey him no matter what. He almost never gives her treats for doing something she should be doing in the first place. He still occasionally shares food with her or treats her for doing fun tricks, but he firmly believes (and he is right) that she should go to the bathroom, sit, and stay simply because he tells her to. She is grown and she knows what she is and is not allowed to do.
And Here Comes the Conviction…
The other day, I was sitting on the bed and I told Ramsey to shake my hand. “Shake, Ramsey, shake!” She just stood there and looked at me. She knew what to do, but she was keenly aware that there were no chewy, meaty treats in my hand and she was not planning to cooperate with me until I had something to offer her for her obedience. In frustration I said, “Why can’t you just obey me whether I have a treat for you or not?!” Then it hit me. The voice of truth that is hard to hear sometimes. “Heather, do you not obey me more readily when you think I have gifts in store for you?”
The Moral of the Story
As much as I hate to admit it, when I am in need of God’s blessings (e.g., healing from an illness, financial concerns, hoping for God to bless my endeavors, etc.) I am more likely to obey Him. If Eric and I are praying about a need in our life, I am more diligent to obey God because I need Him to work on my behalf. During those seasons when all is well, I find myself making more excuses. “I know I need to respect my husband, but surely God does not expect me to respect him when he is wrong. Yes, I need to share God’s love with a neighbor, but I will get around to it eventually.”
God is our ultimate master. Whether we acknowledge Him as Lord or not, He is in control. When He tells us to obey Him, it is for our own good – even if we cannot see it through our human lenses. Out of gratitude for what He did for us at Calvary, we should obey Him when we stand to gain something tangible or when we foresee no reward for our obedience.
What about you? Do you tend to eagerly obey the Lord when you are in the midst of praying for a blessing, but slack off once your prayers have been answered and life is “good”? Think about that. Discuss this question with your significant other. Living lives of obedience to God will not always be easy. Some days you will think God is asking the impossible from you, but a marriage that strives to be obedient to Him is a marriage which will be blessed by Him.
Do you struggle to obey God when life is going well?