I heard a preacher make the following statement about our relationship to a “commandment”; a directive given by someone in authority, whether it be God or anyone else: “A commandment is an order about which there is no choice, and from which there is no retreat.”
This statement was made in the context of our desiring to remain in the good graces of the commanding authority. We understand that we always have two choices when given a command; obey or disobey. We would like to think that there is a third choice as well, the “kinda-sorta, do as much as I feel like doing and that will suffice” option; however, there are only two, and partial obedience is actually disobedience.
You cannot retreat from a commandment. If you retreat, back away, the commandment follows you. If you turn away, or around, it is still right in front of you. You can’t detour when it comes to a commandment; the “over, under, around” principle doesn’t work, the only satisfactory direction in dealing with a commandment is “through”. It would be nice if commandments came with a “’round to it” feature built in, but they commandments are generally of the “get ‘er done” variety.
The key factor in true obedience is the attitude of our heart. Do we obey because we “have to”, or because we “want to”? Jesus said; “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) That of course applies to our obedience to the Lord, but we can make the same application to any person or entity that issues a command to us; the affection, respect, honor, etc., we hold for them will determine our heart-attitude toward our obedience to them. In respect to the Lord, if our attitude in our obedience is a “have to” attitude, that places our obedience into the “works” category which is not pleasing to Him. However, if our obedience is from a heart motivated by our love for Him, that is the type of obedience He seeks.
As we encounter the various things the New Testament directs us to do; love God, believe in Christ, love one another, forgive, resist and live free from the dominion of sin, control our words and actions, etc., etc., it is important to know that it would be unjust of God to command us to do something for which He has not enabled, equipped, and empowered us to do. By His Grace and through the Holy Spirit, He has placed within us; His unconditional love, His nature, His character, His strength, His dynamic/miracle-working power, and everything that makes Him God in order to enable, equip, and empower us to do whatever we are directed to do.
He may direct us to do things that are beyond our ability to do, but He does not expect us to do them in our ability; He has given us His ability in which we can operate if we are willing to surrender “our way” to “His way” and trust that nothing is impossible with Him. When we allow His love in us to be the primary motivating factor in our life, obedience to His commands becomes a lifestyle instead of a constant stream of deliberate choices.
“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13 (Amplified Bible)
*** Fred Wilson ** Author and Teacher