This may seem like a strange question, but how often do you feel guilty about obeying? I bet you do more often than you know.
Consider these scenarios. Have you ever felt guilty about:
- taking a few minutes to read a chapter or rest for a few minutes, knowing the to-do list is still long or that you asked the kids to do a chore that you could have done instead.
- saying no to a friend, church, or extended family activity, not because you had something else going on, but because you were just too exhausted to do one more thing.
- enjoying what God has provided because you know He has not provided in that way for someone else.
- speaking the truth in kindness and love because you know it had to be said, even though it hurt someone else’s feelings.
I might be the only one who has dealt with all of those and more, but I have a feeling that at least one of those struck home with you, dear reader. At least one.
Let me combat that strike with some truth. The enemy’s goal is to mar all that is good. Oh how clearly we see that displayed throughout Scripture! It started in the garden. We see it in Satan’s conversation with God in Job. We see it in the temptation of Jesus. We see it over and over and over again. If Satan can twist everything good – especially for those he has lost for eternity through salvation – then he can prevent truth from spreading. That means he is even going to try to make the things of God appear bad.
Yes, he’s going to make us feel guilty about obedience. We have to choose truth instead!
Our biggest battle comes when we begin to doubt whether our decisions are actually a matter of obedience or personal preference. The only way we will win that battle is by fully immersing ourselves in the Word of God. Last week I studied Psalm 1 in preparation for Sunday school. I love this entire song, but the first half resonate with the truth that obedience will always be clear when we’re immersed in God’s Word.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NASB)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the consequences of obedience were always positive? If the choice to obey always meant that everyone agreed with us and the hard work was rewarded with beautiful results?
More often, though, obedience results in us feeling a bit like Job. Or staying hungry like Jesus. Obedience is hard. And it is always combated, contradicted, and belittled. Sometimes even by our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who do not quite understand why obedience directed us into such a hard place.
Obedience will be a challenge as long as we walk this earth. But, may we stop feeling guilty about it! May we instead ground ourselves so solidly in the Word of God that we are girded up when attacked, strengthened as we rest, and stand firm to draw others closer to Christ along with us.
Be obedient, my friend. Without guilt.