In our church when we take communion part of what we say is "free us for joyful obedience". I had never noticed that. It is one of those things that you read and say and just do it to get through it. Hopefully, that is not how YOU do, I am guilty. I've never been one to enjoy liturgy or rote sayings. They become meaningless words unless I really force myself to concentrate.
Anyway, awhile back a friend of mine brought that phrase to my attention. She said that it jumped out at her during communion one day. When she said it, I laughed inside as I pictured an oxymoron... how can you possibly be JOYFUL when you have to obey?
I began to meditate on it. I remembered that I had taught my children, "you are HAPPY when you obey". They didn't appreciate that phrase much either. But, I believed it to be true. So, why did I not think that I could be "freed for joyful obedience"?
I think it is because I pictured God up in heaven thinking of things to make my life miserable. Like, GIVE... that goes completely against the grain! Or, what if He asked me to go to Africa or worse yet, some cold place like Russia or Antarctica! The Bible plainly tells us that we are to walk after the Spirit and not walk after the flesh (what WE want - and that usually is something not good for us). I thought that must mean that if it is something that I WANT, then it has to be the opposite of what God wants.
That is just stupid thinking! It is thinking like the world. It is thinking based on only half truths and lack of knowledge.
Every good Bible student knows that God is a good God. It gives Him pleasure to bless us and he wishes above all things that we would "prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers".
When we obey, then He can bless us. It is that simple. We do that with our own children, why do we think God is any different? Well, actually He is VERY different and so much more loving - but the principle is the same.
The point is, God's laws, decrees, directions, requests will ALWAYS have a reason and it is ALWAYS for our good. That means that if we do what He says, we will be blessed. It means that I can figuratively "eat my vegetables and I will get my dessert"!
If I don't do what I'm supposed to do, then I don't get the blessing.
So, when I look at it that way, I can "joyfully" obey because I know the reward is coming.
The Bible says that Jesus obeyed and went to the cross for us because of the JOY that was set before Him.
I just wonder, what would happen if we joyfully did what we were asked. I'm sure that it would open doors for us in our world of work, family, friends - whatever we are involved in.
Lord, Thank you that we can be freed for "joyful obedience"!