Is our obedience to the Lord half-hearted or causing us pain?
As I have been seeking the Lord and reading His Word lately, He has been taking me to different verses and spoken greatly to me through them. I wanted to share what He has shown me.
"Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. Deuteronomy 28:1
...saying, "If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer." Exodus 15:26
You must diligently obey the commands of the LORD your God--all the laws and decrees he has given you. Deuteronomy 6:17
There is a common work in each of these verses that stood out to me as I read this week. That word is 'diligently'. Searching deeper into the depth of what God is saying, I decided to look up this common word to grasp it's true undefiled meaning.
1. constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything: a diligent student.
2. done or pursued with persevering attention; painstaking:
As I read this definition, God made the word 'painstaking' jump out at me. It brought so much to light and I wanted to share and challenge other Christians the same way.
For a while now I have gone through a very tough struggle with obeying the Lord in a particular area of my life. Anymore, that challenge of choosing God or my flesh comes before me sometimes on a daily basis. I have spoken with the Lord for some time about it and consistently told him that I was sorry for continuing to fail Him in this area and for not fighting my flesh harder and my ending sentence to Him has been 'I'll try harder'.
So many of us as Christians are caught up with the word 'try' when it comes to the Lord and His commands. We feel that as long as we 'try', we are OK if we continue to fail because we are trying. Now don't get me wrong, each christian has different trials they will encounter and some will be easier while some virtually impossible. I am by no means saying each is so easy we disqualify ourselves for trying. What I'm saying is there are areas of each of our lives that we know our trying is not wholehearted. We allow our flesh to jump in and take over. It is a vicious cycle. Remember, God knows our hearts and you can't fool Him. Your trying may be no trying to Him at all because of your heart condition. You may have convinced yourself you really do the best you can, but we must realize that in Jeremiah 17:9 the Lord tells us that our hearts are deceitful above all else. We cannot rely on our hearts to bring us truth of God's word, our motives, and our heart condition. We must rely on God alone. So as I sought the Lord on how to handle this trial I consistently face, He showed this to me.
The dictionary describes painstaking to mean the following:
Marked by or requiring great pains; very careful and diligent.
Extremely careful and diligent work or effort.
Requiring great pains....well I don't know about you, but when I examine how I have handled this trial in my life, I know for a fact that I have not fought my flesh to the point of causing great pains. I generally fell into it almost immediately. In fact, I think only a handful of times I handled it in a painful way as to walk away and say no to my flesh.
This is what the Lord requires of us. Let's read back on the ten commandments and examine our action in one or more areas of weakness. Do we fight our flesh continually to obey the Lord in theses areas? Or do we just justify our sin as 'trying'?
These verses above show us that God requires nothing less than blood, sweat, and tears to obey the laws He has placed before us. Every obedience brings blessing, every sin brings a curse.
Can you honestly say that you seek to obey God's word painsteakingly? Remember how much pain it causes to work out every day at the gym? Your legs get weak, your muscles ache, your body feels like a noodle, but you endure the discomfort and you endure the pain for a greater cause. We cannot half-heartedly obey the voice of the Lord. We must do it with all our might or we are wasting our time and His. We suffer the pain and discomfort knowing that our obedience will reap a harvest of blessing on earth and crowns in Heaven. For my particular struggle, I know that my fully obeying the voice of the Lord will potentially reap a harvest of saved souls. What a small price for such a great reward.
So I challenge each of you not to just accept the half-hearted motivation to 'try' to please the Lord by obeying Him, but to whole-heartedly and painstakingly do it with all you have. And please don't forget, through this, your not alone and you will not accomplish it alone. Ask the Lord to order your steps each day, ask the Holy Spirit to order your words to those around you. You must rely on Him and not yourself alone to gain victory from your flesh. And for those times when you are weak and feel you cannot go on, follow Psalms 55:22 which states 'cast your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you.'.
Philippians 4:13 - You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Consistently pray about your trial. Consistently ask for guidance and direction from the Lord. Psalms 32:8 - I will instruct you and guide you in the way you should go, I will council you with my eye upon you. That is what I did about my situation and He brought me to realize my true heart condition. No one ever gained from being deceived, but to rely on the Lord to show you your true heart in a matter and for Him to reveal it to you brings the freedom of acting according to His word and moving forward. It's a beautiful thing.
I encourage you to study Deuteronomy 28 as It gives God's blessings for for obedience. It's very encouraging.