Ministry Resources

Obeying God in the Little Things

Author: Howard and Nancy Stevens

We know that God loves us, that He has saved us by His grace, and that our future in heaven is guaranteed.

So is it really critical that we obey every little thing that He tells us to do? If we have good intentions, doesn’t He overlook small sins of omission and petty acts of disobedience? Why is it so important that we obey?

Obedience demonstrates our love for God. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).”If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:10).

Partial Obedience is Disobedience

God had commanded King Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites and all their livestock and possessions (1 Samuel 15:3). Saul, however, spared the Amalekite king and the best of the sheep and cattle (15:9). When the prophet Samuel questioned Saul, Saul responded, “But I did obey the Lord.” Saul claimed that he had saved the best of the animals so that he could sacrifice them to God. In other words, because of Saul’s “good” motives, God should excuse his disobedience and count it as obedience!

Samuel responded, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice” (15:22). Because Saul had rejected the command of the Lord, God rejected him from being king. Our “good” motives do not excuse us from obeying.

Although a matter may seem small or insignificant to us, nothing is unimportant to God. He never does or says anything without a purpose; therefore, He would not command us to do something if it wasn’t important to Him.

In the Parable of the Two Sons, the father asked his sons to go work in the vineyard (Matthew 21:28-31). Although one son initially refused his father’s request but later changed his mind and obeyed, we may not have that opportunity. God’s timing is crucial. If we delay, we may miss an opportunity and He may have to ask someone else. Delayed obedience often results in disobedience.

Learning Obedience

According to Hebrews 5:8, even Jesus had to learn obedience! Should we expect less? Obedience makes us more like Christ, deepens our relationship with Him, and helps us to better understand God’s priorities and ways. Taking little steps of obedience trains us to habitually obey. Then, when big decisions confront us, we will be accustomed to obeying.

We have been entrusted with salvation and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. First Corinthians 4:2 reminds us, “It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Obedience produces faithfulness. When obedience becomes the pattern of our lives, God can trust us to act promptly and decisively when He asks us to do something. Philip obediently left a revival in Samaria and went out into the desert, even though it made no sense (Acts 8:26-30). If Philip had not obeyed, the Ethiopian eunuch may never have accepted Christ and brought the gospel back to his people. Our disobedience may deter or delay someone from accepting Christ.

Obedience allows God to demonstrate His power in our lives

Although Gideon felt weak and insignificant, when God commanded him to lead an army of only 300 men to defeat the Midianites, he obeyed. The Lord caused the Midianites “to turn on each other with their swords” (Judges 7:22)!

Obedience brings many blessings into our lives and also blesses the lives of others. Hebrews 10:35,36 encourages us, “Do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Our continued obedience will yield eternal rewards. Jesus promised, “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26).

What's Next

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