Note: This post is the second of a 2-post series concerning the importance of prompt obedience. In the PREVIOUS post, we saw the reasons for and dangers of delayed obedience. In this post, we will see 6 blessings associated with prompt obedience.
In the Belgian Congo, the weather was hot and dank. No breath of air stirred; leaves hung from the trees as though they were weighted. In the garden not far from the missionary home a small boy played under a tree. Suddenly, the father called to him: “Philip, obey me instantly. Get down on your stomach.” The boy reacted at once, and his father continued, “Now crawl toward me fast.” The boy again obeyed. After he had come about halfway, the father said, “Now stand up and run to me.” The boy reached his father and turned to look back—hanging from the branch under which he had been playing was a fifteen-foot serpent. The boy’s immediate obedience to commands that may have seemed strange saved his life!
Are we always as ready to obey—like this boy? Or do we say: “Tell me why,” “Explain to me,” or “I will after a while?” I hope our obedience would be like this boy—or even better, like another young boy Samuel who, upon hearing from God immediately said, “Speak, for your servant is listening” [1 Sam 3:10].
And in order to encourage us regarding this subject of prompt obedience, let’s take a look at Psalm 119:60 which says, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.” Notice, the psalmist could have just stated, “I will hasten to obey your commands” or “I will not delay to obey your commands.” However, he does not do that. He uses the words “hasten” and “not delay” which basically imply the same. Why? This was his way of expressing his heart’s desire concerning the importance of prompt obedience to God’s commands.
Also, notice the word, “commands.” It’s in the plural, not singular as in “command!” Significance? God wants us to treat all his commands—not just some of his commands, with the same attitude: Prompt Obedience. And at least 6 blessings follow when we obey God’s commands without delay.
Blessing # 1 of Prompt Obedience: God is pleased and thereby we fulfill the purpose of our calling.
If you are a parent, are you not pleased when your children obey you right away? Same principle. In 1 Samuel 15:22-23a we read, “22…Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” So, when we obey God without delay, God is pleased and thereby we fulfill the purpose of our calling. After all, we are created for God’s glory [Isa 43:7; 1 Cor 10:31] and how can God be glorified apart from our prompt obedience?
Blessing # 2 of Prompt Obedience: It brings joy to the heart.
There is always guilt in our hearts as long as we are in disobedience since our conscience convicts us. The effects of guilt? A lack of joy. No matter how much we try and justify to ourselves and others as to the reasons for our disobedience, the Holy Spirit who produces joy in our hearts [Gal 5:22] cannot do so until we obey.
Jesus tells us, “10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” [John 15:10-11]. Notice how Jesus is connecting joy [“your joy may be complete” – v. 11] with obedience to his commands [“If you keep my commands” – v. 10] in these verses. The Lord wants us to be joyful. However, this can come only when we prompty obey his commands.
I believe many are in a constant state of guilt and thus unable to experience the blessing of joy because they habitually fail to obey God without delay. Are you one like that? Then plead with God to change you—starting from today. Don’t wait till tomorrow. Pursue obedience without delay and experience the joy that the Holy Spirit will produce in your heart—even when that obedience may lead to you to pay a high price. Afterall, Jesus gave his all for us. Is there anything we can hold back?
Blessing # 3 of Prompt Obedience: We experience assurance of our salvation.
1 John 2:3-6 says, “3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” True assurance comes when we obey. Jesus exemplified a life of complete obedience without delay. When we pursue such a lifestyle, the Holy Spirit gives genuine assurance that we are indeed children of God.
How do we know we are truly saved? The Bible declares in Matthew 7:21-23 that many deceive themselves into thinking they are genuinely saved when in reality they are far from God. How can we be sure our hearts don’t mislead us into thinking we are Christians when that may not be the case? One safe way: Practicing a life of prompt obedience to God’s commands. This does not mean a Christian never sins [1 John 2:2]. However, this does mean a Christian cannot continue living a life of sin! When sin occurs, there must [and will] be a desire to repent and forsake it immediately.
Do you experience true assurance of your salvation based on a life that promptly obeys God’s commands? If so, continue to obey God’s commands without delay. If your assurance is based merely on feelings, but not on obedience to God’s commands, then you can be assured of this: You have a false assurance of your salvation. It’s not too late to obey him even now—starting with the command to repent of your sins and to place your faith in Christ.
In Mark 1:15, Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news.” The good news is Jesus died for our sins and rose again. By turning from sin and turning to him in full surrender, one can become united to him and then start living out the Christian life. Also, the first command after becoming a Christian is this: Being baptized publicly by immersion to show outwardly what has happened inwardly in the heart. And then to commit oneself to a life of prompt obedience to the rest of God’s commands. A person pursuing such a commitment will experience true assurance of salvation.
Blessing # 4 of Prompt Obedience: It helps us to obey more easily in the future.
Good habits develop good character. It’s not only true in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense. As we practice immediate obedience to God’s commands, it becomes more natural in the long run to obey without delay. Our trust in God increases, and as we experience the various blessings of immediate obedience, it encourages us to do the same over and over again.
One writer captures this thought quite well: “The doctors keep claiming that if I follow the regimen of regular exercise, I will achieve the desired results of weight loss and physical fitness. Well, I’ve tried it; and like so many of you, I had no immediate experience of these promised benefits. In fact, over the first few weeks, I felt very weak and tired. The secret is perseverance. Over the long haul, exercise does produce better physical conditioning. The same principle applies to obedience. It is not always comfortable, but over the long haul, it has good results.”
Blessing # 5 of Prompt Obedience: We set a good example for others.
The Bible frequently calls us to be good examples to others and not be a stumbling block to them. Fellow Christians are encouraged when we obey without delay. Our own family, spouses, and children are encouraged when we obey without delay.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Just as Christ was always obedient, Paul made his life goal to follow the example of Christ. When we obey without delay, we do impact people who are watching us in a positive manner. When our children see us promptly obeying without any delay—even when there is a cost, they will very likely be encouraged to do the same.
On the flip side, we also impact people negatively when we are slow to obey. Think of children who observe their parents who are consistently slow to obey. How can they be expected to obey promptly? The words of the parents and the words they hear in the church will fall on deaf ears since what they see in action is contrary to what they hear! Same truths apply if one is in any leadership position. You can have a tremendous impact negatively or positively on the people you lead based on your response to God’s commands.
We are not on an island. We are in a community. Our actions have the power to impact others. That’s why it’s critical to set a good example to others and thereby be a positive influence in their lives.
Blessing # 6 of Prompt Obedience: We will be better used by the Lord.
God cannot use unclean vessels. It’s that simple. Yes, in one sense, we are all imperfect vessels. However, there is a difference between a lifestyle of delayed obedience versus sporadic moments of delayed obedience. We read in 2 Timothy 2:20-21, “20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
One of the sad things in ministry is how often I see many who could be greatly used by the Lord not being effectively used by him because of habitual acts of delayed obedience. It is a great privilege to be used by the King of the universe. A life of immediate obedience opens the door for the Lord to use us as he sees fit.
So, there we go. 6 blessings in total when we obey the Lord promptly: 1. God is pleased and thereby we fulfill the purpose of our calling; 2. It brings joy to the heart; 3. We experience assurance of our salvation; 4. It helps us to obey more easily in the future; 5. We set a good example for others; 6. We will be better used by the Lord.
We can add more to this list of blessings. However, these benefits will hopefully prompt us to follow the command of Psalm 119:60, “I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands” more diligently.
Jerry Bridges in his book, “The Discipline of Grace” talks about Cruise Control vs. Race Car mindset to obedience. He writes,
“Most of us believers practice what I call a “cruise-control” approach to obedience. We press the pedal of obedience until we’ve brought our behavior up to a certain level or speed, which is most often determined by the behavior standard of other Christians around us. We don’t want to lag behind them, nor are we eager to forge ahead. We want to just comfortably blend in. Once we have arrived at this comfortable level of obedience, we push the cruise-control button in our hearts, ease back, and relax. We don’t have to watch the speed limit signs in God’s Word, and we certainly don’t have to experience the fatigue that comes with striving to obey him with all our heart, soul, and mind.
By contrast, consider race-car drivers. They wouldn’t think of using cruise control. They’re not interested in blending in with those around them. They want to win the race. So they’re totally focused on their driving. They try to push their car to the outer limits of its mechanical ability and endurance and press themselves to the limits of their skill. They’re driving with all their heart, soul, and mind. This is what it means to love and obey God with all our heart, soul, and mind. It means striving for holiness, in the words of Hebrews 12:14. It means making every effort to add to our faith the various facets of Christian character, in the words of 2 Peter 1:5-7.”
Don’t settle for a cruise control mindset. I believe the text we saw in Psalm 119:60 calls us to have a race-car driver’s mindset when it comes to obedience. Focus on prompt obedience without any delay.
So, let me in closing ask you this: Are there commands that you are yet to obey?
Commands such as:
- Repenting of your sins and coming to Christ?
- Publicly getting baptized to declare your faith in Christ?
- Forgiving someone?
- Seeking forgiveness from someone?
- Loving your spouse? Your children?
- Seeking to live a simple life and not run after money/fame?
- Being generous with your money?
- Staying sexually pure and guarding your eyes against watching evil?
- Restraining your tongue from sinful and useless speech that hurts others?
- Praying More?
- Reading God’s Word more?
- Witnessing more?
Whatever it is—don’t delay. Remember the deadly consequences of delayed obedience from the previous post. Heart hardens over time, conscience silenced and there is that possibility of severe disciplining from the Lord’s hand. Repent of your delay today and cry out to God to give you a spirit of immediate obedience.
Let me in closing add one thought that may be of help in pursuing immediate obedience: Love for Jesus. If we keep growing in our love for Jesus by constantly reflecting on what he has done for us on the cross, we will be more prone to obeying him without delay. After all, Jesus himself said, “If you love me, [you will] keep my commands” [John 14:15]. Love for Jesus helps us to obey his commands. Also, obedience to his commandments proves our love for him. It shows that we are genuinely his sheep.