Monday, March 26, 2007

Day Twenty-Eight: The Benefits of Obedience

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:9-10).

Yesterday we meditated on the link between obedience and sanctification, emphasizing especially that obedience is the aim and visible proof of sanctification. Today I want to show that true, godly, heart-felt obedience, while it may be costly and painful at times, is a fountain of joy because it beckons the blessings of God. And though the blessings it beckons are quite literally innumerable, let me name several of them.

First, the ultimate blessing of obedience is that we get God himself! "And being made perfect, he [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:9). How would you define eternal salvation, or what is elsewhere called eternal life? I think most of us would define it by emphasizing the temporal aspect of it—eternal life means that we will live forever. But listen to how Jesus defines it—“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). So, all who obey Jesus get eternal salvation from Jesus, and eternal salvation is to know the Father and the Son and, of course, the Holy Spirit. Indeed, even as the chief benefit of my marriage is that I get Kim, the chief blessing I receive from obeying Jesus is that I get Jesus.

The second most important blessing of obedience is that we get the body of Christ: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments" (1 John 5:2-3). Christ may save us as spiritual orphans, but he does not leave us that way! He abundantly provides us with brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we are united in Christ. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

Third, in Deuteronomy 28:1-14 God promises the children of Israel that he will bless them in eighteen specific ways if they will only obey him from the heart. He promises to make them a people holy unto himself, he promises to bless their families, to bless their land, to bless their work, to bless their food, to bless their battles and give them victory, to bless their finances so that they will always lend and never borrow. In short, he promises to bless them in all they do. And if this was so for those who were under the law, how much more is it so for those who are in Christ Jesus? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3).

This does not mean that we will not suffer, in fact, if we obey Christ we are sure to suffer. "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:18-20). But just think of the great blessings that fell upon Christ because of his unflinching obedience to the Father, and know that we too will receive his blessings if we endure to the end. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Prayer Focus: Pray that the Father will open our eyes to the blessings of obedience so that we will not see it as drudgery but as great joy!

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