I’ve taught youth girls at our various churches for years now, and although there are always those who give the “church” answers, I never cease to be amazed at the honesty of those girls.
One night I was teaching on humility. We had discussed several aspects of humility versus pride, contemplating which one is most commonly reflected in our behavior. I asked them about how they respond to instruction, whether it be from parents, grandparents, teachers, or any other adult in authority over them. Once again, they were completely honest as they fully demonstrated to me how they typically respond to their parents. “Why?” “Do I have to?” “I don’t want to!” All expressed, of course, in that delightfully whiny tone of teenagers.
Naturally, we talked about how those are responses of pride and disrespect, not of humility. But not long after that classroom discussion, I read a verse that convicted me about my own attitude toward God when He gives me a command or instruction, or even when He opens or closes various doors.
“Why, Lord? Why?”
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. Psalm 111:10
Psalm 111 progresses through a beautiful flow of praise to the Lord. God is good. God is gracious. God loves us. Oh how our lives would be overflowing with delight were we to simply rest in those truths!
But sometimes His commands don’t seem good. His silence doesn’t seem loving. It all seems like one more burden pressed down upon our already overwhelmed hearts and lives. And we respond like whiny teenagers: Why, God? Why?
We want to understand why we should obey. We want the wisdom and the clarity of mind. We want to know all of the details before we dive into obedience.
But, Scripture shows us that such an attitude is backwards thinking. Just as our children often must take a step of obedience before they understand the whys, so must we walk in obedience first, even if we don’t understand. Psalm 111:10 tells us that when we fear the Lord – acknowledge His greatness and power, to put it simply – wisdom will begin to flow. When we obey His commandments, understanding will be ours. We want to turn it the other way around. We want the understanding and wisdom first. We want to know and then make our decision about obedience. But God says to obey first, then understanding and wisdom will follow.
Do we lack wisdom? Are we uncertain instead of growing in understanding? Maybe it’s time to stop and evaluate our own attitudes. Maybe we need to be honest with ourselves, evaluating whether we’re acting like willful teenagers or walking in humble obedience. Only the latter will receive wisdom and understanding as they follow in trusting obedience.