Daily Success
Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 24 : Hear God's Voice | Day 164

Obey First; Understand Later!

A young boy walked from his mission home down to a jungle trail. His mother, waving good-bye to him, suddenly yelled, "Stop!" The boy immediately froze. As his mother rushed toward him and pulled him backward, he saw an enormous boa constrictor in an overhanging tree branch. Had he taken one more step, the snake likely would have dropped down on him and eventually crushed him to death. Because the boy obeyed before he fully understood why he should obey, his life was spared.

Just because we do not understand God's reasons for His commands does not give us an excuse to disobey His commands. He told the nation of Israel, "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

Light received from God and acted upon brings more light. However, light neglected or rejected brings darkness and confusion.

God trained the nation of Israel to think in this sequence: hear, obey, and then understand. This contradicts our Western mind-set, which first seeks to understand what it hears and then decides whether or not to obey. Trying to understand all the ways of an infinitely wise God as a prerequisite to obedience will not only hinder us from hearing His voice, but it will also produce frustration in our lives.

In Hebrews 11 we read about heroes of faith. These men and women chose to trust and obey God, even when His instructions did not "make sense." Noah was told to build an ark in preparation for a flood before it had ever rained on the earth. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son after he had been promised that his descendants would be as the sand of the sea in number. When we read of their lives, we learn the results of their actions; however, for them to take those steps required strong faith in God and a commitment to obeying Him regardless of the outcome.

Complete trust and obedience requires a close relationship between the one giving the command and the one receiving it. Jesus emphasized this when He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Sheep will not follow a stranger because they do not know the stranger's voice.

God’s willingness to speak to us is often greater than our willingness to hear and obey what He tells us.

If we choose to disobey the Lord because we do not understand the reasons behind His instruction, we will never experience the fullness of the Christian life. When I read the command to fast secretly, I did not expect all the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefits that would come from obeying it. Nor did Jesus describe these benefits when He gave this command. He simply promised to reward us openly if we would fast secretly.

If we have not already done so, let’s acknowledge God’s absolute trustworthiness in our lives and purpose to obey Him in faith, even when our minds do not understand His ways.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard