Life is full of rules and instructions.

Don’t take food or drink out of the kitchen. Clean your room. Brush your teeth at least once a day. No running in the hallways. Write your name on the top of your test paper. Don’t drive faster than the posted speed limit. File your income tax return by April 15th. Tell the truth. Forgive your enemies.

As a child, I grew up under a list of expectations and consequences. As a parent, I’m on the other side of the equation as the enforcer. As a citizen, government has oodles of regulations. And as a Christian, God’s Word is full of instructions for a fruitful life.

This week’s character trait is obedience. Or quickly and cheerfully carrying out the direction of those who are responsible for me. It’s following instructions, complying with rules or regulations, and submitting to authority.

If my teen-aged son grumbles, complains, procrastinates, and comes up with excuses why he shouldn’t have to pick up his dirty socks off the floor, I’m all over his attitude. Because delayed obedience is not true obedience.

But I’m guilty of doing the same. Why should I have to forgive them? Don’t you realize what they said about me? Turn the other cheek? Are you kidding? Well, maybe I can let it go in another few days or weeks, but right now I’m just so mad I can hardly think straight. If they say they’re sorry, then I’ll consider …

Then I remember something Jesus said. “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15 NIV) If I love Him, I’ll obey. Why? Because love and trust go hand in hand. If I truly believe that God has my best interests in mind and wouldn’t tell me to do (or not do) something that won’t end up making my life better, it becomes easier to trust, love, and therefore obey.

Obedience may still be a challenge, but I’m learning to trust the rule-giver.

What about you? Do you struggle to obey rules you don’t understand? Is it easier if you trust the rule-makers? Is delayed or begrudging obedience true obedience? Why or why not?

Character Matters – Obedience
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