OBEYING GOD NOT FOR PERSONAL GAIN

To obey God is to submit to His command and do things His way, whether or not we understand His reasoning. It takes faith to obey God. Which one of us will give his or her child stone in place of bread or snake instead of a piece of fish? So then, as evil as we are, if we can give good things to our children, we can be assured that God will not give us anything bad. (see Matthew 7:9-10). Therefore, it is safe to trust and obey Him! When God commands, He does not have to explain, but quite often He does. For instance, He said to the Israelites (and us of course), “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (see Exodus 20:12). 

Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when threatened with the hot furnace could have come up with some excuse, bowed and worshiped that ugly image set up by Nebuchadnezzar, and saved their lives. However, they stood their ground and refused to worship the image; God was enough. Good for them! They knew what the king’s decree was, but they also knew the power of God and His command that said, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven or on earth . . . You shall not bow down to them or worship them” (Exodus 20:3-5 NIV). 

They said to the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18 NIV). 

Obeying God does not guarantee the outcome we want or desire in any given situation. God could have chosen to let these men perish in the furnace, even though they were determined  to trust and obey Him. It would simply have meant that He had better plans for them. Like the Apostle Paul said, going to be with the Lord is better by far (see Philippians 1:23). 

Abraham believed God could bring Isaac back to life even if he killed him in sacrifice, but that was not the reason he took Isaac to the mountain. It was because God asked him to. He was being obedient and leaving the outcome in God’s hands. When we obey God, our focus should not be on any particular benefit to us. We need to understand that the outcome could be very different from our expectations

Our reasons for obeying should be:

• He commanded (He said so!)

• We trust His wisdom, even when we don’t understand

• He has the right and power to do anything the way He wants (He is sovereign)

• He has plans for us, and they are plans for our welfare, not for evil, to give us a hope and a future (see Jeremiah 29:11).

• In all things He works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

(The good in question will not always be what we have in mind, but good all the same, even better.) The Hymnist says, “There is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”