As a dad I think it’s important for my kids to obey me. It’s not because I’m a tyrant, it’s because I love them. I want to protect them and I want to help them grow into healthy adults, so obedience is important. However, my kids’ obedience isn’t a tool for their personal engagement with me – to personally engage with me, I prefer a hug over a clean room.
In Romans 4:13-17 Paul shows us Why Obedience Will Never Lead To Big Gains.
Lets consider what God really wants from you…
1. Your obedience doesn’t result in the friendship that Jesus wants
Romans 4:13, “It was not through the law… but through the righteousness that comes by faith” NIV
If I love Jesus then I’m going to obey Him. However, obeying Jesus won’t bring me into a friendship with Him. A friendship is about personal engagement, not disconnected obedience. Being good enough just isn’t good enough because focusing on being good usually replaces focusing on being personal.
2. Your obedience isn’t perfect enough to personally engage with Jesus
Romans 4:15, “the law brings wrath” NIV
The problem with trying to please a perfect God by my actions is that I’m not perfect. Obedience without faith can’t lead to reward. It’s not because the system is broken, but because I am broken. I make a lot of mistakes. Sure, I may be good sometimes, but if I’m not completely good (I’m far from it) I’ll be punished for the wrong that I’ve done. Because I’m not perfect I will not be able to personally engage with a perfect God according to my behaviour.
3. Your belief gains you the friendship that Jesus wants to give
Romans 4:16, “Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed…”
Because God is gracious He promises salvation for anyone who believes in Jesus. Personal engagement with Jesus is a matter of faith, not obedience. My belief (and yours) in Jesus allows me to personally engage with God and then receive the biggest reward that God offers to us: His personal engagement forever.
4. Your belief isn’t licence to hurt the friendship
Heads up, obedience may not connect me with God, but it keeps me connected after I’ve personally engaged with Him by faith. Obedience, though, doesn’t look like a score card and a list of rules. Obedience looks like a growing love for God and for others, and growing in the expression of love.
The biggest gain available to us is personal engagement with Jesus – friendship. Friendship with Jesus is a result of your belief in Him, not your work for him. Obedience is certainly important, but it’s not the first step toward God. So, believe and then grow in your love for Him and for the people around you.
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