As we continue this series on how to incorporate worship into our homes and families, it’s crucial to see how obedience is a foundational element of how worship is lived out in our daily lives.
We see this with the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament and it continues to this day. Jesus Himself said, “if you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15 NIV). Jesus is saying that the primary way to show love and adoration to Him is not by singing a song, but by living with obedience to all He commands. As a reminder for all of us… we are commanded to obey God (Exodus 19:5 and Deuteronomy 11:1), the Word of God (Luke 11:28 and James 1:25), Jesus’s teachings (John 14:15 and 2 Corinthians 10:5), our parents (Proverbs 6:20 and Ephesians 6:1-3), and all other authority (Mark 12:17 and Hebrews 13:17). Bottom line is this… a lifestyle of worship is a lifestyle of obedience.
In his book, Real Worship, Warren Wiersbe makes an important distinction between obedience as an act of worship verses obedience as an act of trying to earn salvation by works when he says, “We do not worship God in order to achieve peace of mind or to solve our personal problems, although these may be blessed by-products of worship. We worship God because He commands us to do so and because worship is the highest and holiest experience of the Christian believer. God is worthy of our worship, and that’s all we really need to know. If our motive is anything other than this, then we are ‘using’ God and practicing a refined form of idolatry.” It is so important to teach our children to see obedience as an act of worship and not part of any legalistic pressure. As my dad used to always tell me, “John, it’s never legalistic to obey the Word of God.”
Obedience must be looked through three lenses to clearly see if an action was sincerely obedient:
1. OBEY GOD IMMEDIATELY.
Immediate obedience is key because it shows the desire to obey when asked. A child who does not clean his or her room until being told multiple times by a parent, and then finally resorts to accomplishing the task hours later is not acting in full obedience. The same is true for any task under any authority. Looking again at the famous scripture of Joshua 24:15, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (NIV), Joel Beeke in his book “Family Worship” explains, “The word serve in verse 15 is an inclusive word. It is translated as worship many times in scripture. The original word not only includes serving God in every sphere of our lives, but also in special acts of worship….including obedience.” We must be eager to achieve a task immediately so that we are always ready and responsive to whatever task is given.
2. OBEY GOD COMPLETELY.
Secondly, we obey completely. A half-finished task is a disobedient one. We as Christians are to finish strong in everything we do. We are to lead in doing what is expected, and then some. In work, in play, in ministry, in service, in mission, and in life itself. Because obedience is a form of worship, and a sign of what God has already done for us, we are to actually go above and beyond what is expected of us so that we might be an example to those looking on. Jesus tell us in Mathew 5:41, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” Or just a few verses earlier in that same chapter, Jesus also states, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 NIV).
3. OBEY GOD JOYFULLY.
An immediate and complete obedience is not fulfilled unless it is also accompanied with a joyful attitude. The attitudes behind our actions are very important to the Lord. Whereas the action can be manipulated easily, the sincere attitude cannot. We are told in Philippians 2:14 to “do all things without grumbling or questioning” (NIV), and this includes obeying. If we acknowledge that obedience is truly a form of worship, then the act of obeying is also an offering. We, therefore, must remember that throughout scripture, the heart and attitude behind an offering given to the Lord is of profound and critical importance. Warren Wiersbe gives great insight to the significance of our attitude behind our offerings when he says, “If what we offer is given sincerely to God, in the Spirit, through Jesus Christ, then our gifts are acceptable as spiritual sacrifices. It’s the character and attitude of the giver that give value to the offering. The poor widow’s copper coins brought more joy to the Lord than did the rich worshipper’s expensive gifts (Mark 12:41-44).” The attitude from which obedience is produced will determine if true obedience is reached.
These three lenses of obedience are so important for us to understand and to teach to our children. There is such joy and peace in knowing one has given their life and their all to serve the Lord’s will no matter the circumstances. This is a powerful offering from a worshipful heart.