Obedience is defined as compliance, agreement, submission, or conformity. In short, obedience is doing the bidding of another person: usually someone in authority over you, as in parent/child, master/servant, or boss/employee relationships.
What are the reasons for compliance in relationships? People usually obey or comply out of fear of punishment. An insubordinate employee could be fired; a disobedient child could have privileges suspended. Other reasons for compliance could be respect, being in agreement with the orders, or trusting that the individual in authority knows better and is right.
So when it comes to us Christians’ relationship with God, why should we obey Him? All the aforementioned reasons apply, but in addition, He commands us to diligently obey His command (see Deuteronomy 6:17). As our Father, God is entitled to our respect; it is our duty therefore to respect and obey Him. Through the prophet Malachi, God asked His people, the Israelites, “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve?” (Mal 1:6 NLT). If we know God as well as we should, we’ll embrace His commands and instructions. We’ll love to obey Him, because His commands are for our wellbeing (see Jeremiah 11:29) and not our detriment. He knows the outcome of all the commands He gives us. Human parents, on the other hand, are not always so sure: sometimes, outcomes of their own instructions take them by surprise. Not so with God.
We Christians need to obey God out of trust. Abraham is a good example. God promised him a son, Isaac, through whom He’d bless the whole world (see Genesis 17:19; 21:12). Then later, God told him, “Go and sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering” (Genesis 22:2 NLT). Was God speaking from both sides of His mouth? Had He forgotten His promise concerning Isaac? Of course not! But Abraham did not ask any questions and did not hesitate to obey; the very next day, he set out to sacrifice Isaac as God had commanded. And he would have killed Isaac had the angel of God not called from heaven to stop him (see Genesis 22:11-12). Abraham obeyed the command because he trusted God. The book of Hebrews tells us, “Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again” (Hebrews 11:19 NLT).
There should also be obedience out of fear for God, because He is capable of resisting and disciplining us for disobedience. Jesus once said to His disciples, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28 NLT). This of course doesn’t mean we should have a morbid fear of God; instead, we need to have a reverential awe of Him. That will mean obeying Him out awe, love, respect, and trust. If we choose to not obey, then we definitely need to be afraid: very afraid! His holiness requires that He reprimand sin in any form, including insubordination.
It is wonderful to know that although God is entitled to our obedience with no questions asked and obeying Him is for our own good, He promises to bless us when we do (see Exodus 20:6). Those are not empty promises. In Deuteronomy 28:1-14, we’re given a list of blessings that will come our way when we are obedient. When the Israelites were being unfaithful about tithing, God challenged them, “If you do…I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” (Malachi 3:10 NLT).
So, do you think you should obey God? If so, why? Personally, I love to obey Him, because He’s God and I’m not. He commands me to, and that should be a good enough reason for anyone. In addition, I know He loves me, and through His Son Jesus, He has saved my soul and is preparing a place for me in heaven. He has the power to do anything. He directs my life in ways that nobody else could. His love for me overwhelms me, and obedience is the only way I can prove my love for Him (see 1 John 5:3). Think about it, and be obedient!