FIRST-PERSON: God gives only 2 choices

by Melanie Lenow, posted Friday, April 21, 2017 (3 months ago)

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Choices are wired into our society today. When we buy a cup of coffee, we have endless choices of how we want it fixed. If we do research on a topic, hundreds of articles are at our disposal. If we read one and it does not suit us, we simply move to the next.

Choices are one of the benefits of living in a free society.

However, as believers we must be careful not to apply the expectation of personal choices to our relationship with God.

When God gives us commands in Scripture, we only have two choices. Are we going to follow God's instructions and live in blessing or are we going to disobey and live in frustration? That's it. It might seem simple, but the Lord's plan for us can be simple if we have a willing heart to obey.

Let's apply this to a command God has given us in Scripture. John 15:17 says, "These things I have commanded you, that you love one another." We might read those words in John's Gospel and say in our hearts, "Yes, I want to obey." But as we face the relationships God has placed in our lives, we sometimes come back to God saying something like this, "I know You said love, but they have hurt me." Or "They don't want to be loved by me." Or "They just really annoy me." We want another option. We want the leverage of negotiation.

However, woven into God's clear commands in Scripture is the immutability of God Himself. God does not change; therefore His instructions to His children do not change. To expect another option is to expect the character of God to change, and that is not going to happen.

Another example is Ephesians 4:29, a command given by God through the apostle Paul: "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." I can think of numerous other options that sound easier to tackle than simple obedience to this command. But my God, who loves me and loves those around me, commands me to make sure that the words that come out of my mouth are edifying and impart grace to those who hear them. That is a huge task, but one worthy of pursuing.

To be obedient, we must lay down our desire to have another option. We must have the simple faith where we take God's Word seriously and simply obey what God says.

As we work in our own hearts to obey the commands of Scripture without seeking other options, we will find that it is more difficult than anything we can do in our own strength. Yet I believe that is the exact point. All of the options we bring to the Lord -- all of the excuses we present for simple disobedience -- can be accomplished in our strength.

God, however, does not want us living in our own strength. He wants us relying on Him and His strength. When we choose simply to obey God's commands in our lives, we are moving forward in trust and accepting that we cannot do it in our own strength. That is the moment when we see our obedience sanctifying us to be more like Christ (Romans 8:29).

So the next time the Lord presents you with an opportunity to obey His clear commands, refrain from seeking other options and choose to act in wholehearted obedience. A magnificent blessing from the Lord awaits you.

Melanie Lenow and her husband Evan, an ethics professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, are parents to four children. This column is adapted from the seminary's BiblicalWoman.org website.
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