What does Obedience mean?

I recently heard a pastor talk about other pastors who mostly speak about favor and abundance to people. I don’t think the pastor I heard had a problem with the message. What he didn’t like was that there was no mention of the obedience that precedes favor and abundance. This same observation has been on my heart for the past week, so I knew that I had to speak about obedience and what that means to us Christians.

I’ve always thought it was interesting that we Christians feel that we are called to strive for perfection like Christ, when clearly perfection is unattainable on this earth (as evidenced most directly by Jesus having to die for our sins on the cross). Knowing what we know about grace, we get up each morning and understand that Gods mercies are new each day. He knows we’re imperfect – He showed us perfection in His Son. But does that mean we should just give up? Doesn’t all this somehow let us all off the hook?

When writing to the Romans, Paul spoke about this very thing. He wrote: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Rom. 6:15.

To Paul, being a slave to righteousness was a supernatural step-up from being a slave to sin. Indeed, he said that we were set free from sin so that we could become obedient and thus slaves to righteousness, leading to holiness that, in turn, results in eternal life! Whenever I hear talk about trading one form of slavery for another, I always think of Bob Dylan, who sang that it didn’t matter who you were or how high up in the world you had climbed: “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” We Americans don’t like to think about serving anyone. But, really, that’s just us thinking about life in the natural world with Kings and Presidents and what-not. In the supernatural war for your soul, however, there’s no sitting on the sidelines. If you don’t pick a side to serve, you’ve already picked the devil. Obedience to God opens up the supernatural doors to everything God has to offer, including favor and abundance in this world.

I prefer to serve God and to be a slave to obedience, and I believe that true obedience has several basic parts.

1. Obedience is about knowing who God is and His direction and promises for your life. Do you know God personally or just through someone else?

To really know God, I believe you have to really read His word. Don’t just depend on your Sunday service and Pastor’s teaching to tell you who He is. He speaks to us through His word and gives us insight that is special and personal to you. You simply can’t get this kind of personal insight in corporate teachings. Every day, spend some time (even 5 minutes) reading the Bible to see what treasure the Lord has to tell you.

2. Obedience is Giving of Yourself for others – How do you treat God’s people?

Even if you don’t have a call on your life for full-time or part-time ministry service, you are still called to be an ambassador for God. I saw a man with a walker trying to get up some steps and having just spent many weeks on a walker my heart broke that no one offered to help him. I asked if he would like some help, and he was so relieved and grateful. I didn’t have to mention God or Jesus, but God definitely touched that man through me!

Look for people to bless – get out of yourself and your own way and try to actually do something to help those around you! Really, it’s not enough to notice some acute societal need and then post a comment about it in your status box on Facebook. At the very least, smile at people and be prepared to give a kind, positive, and uplifting word to everyone. People are starving for the love we have – do not be stingy. And YES, be prepared to tell people about how great our God is and give them an example of something amazing that He has done for you. Plant the seeds of what we have and let God water them.  And, if you can, MEET THEIR NEEDS! Remember that Jesus said that whatever we do for the least of God’s children, we do to Him. Matt. 25:31-46. If we ignore the homeless, we ignore Jesus. If we say “good riddance” to those in jail . . . well, you get the point. Loving one another isn’t always easy. It’s all about obedience.


3. Obedience means doing what He tells you to do.

I think many times God withholds his favor and abundance simply because we don’t do what we’re told. I’m not just talking about the 10 Commandments, or the “greatest commandment” to love others. I’m talking about something maybe you were told to do personally. I was recently having a difficulty at work with one of my co-workers. He thought I had said something bad about him and he told others I was a hypocrite because here I was, a Christian, speaking badly about him. Honestly, I didn’t know what I had even said, but I prayed to God about what to do. God told me that I had talked about this person, and that whether or not he took it out of context, I was to go and apologize to him. Believe me, I didn’t want to apologize, but I did. And that person was surprised and grateful! I don’t know if it healed everything, but I know that God told me to do something and I did it. For that reason alone, I felt peace.


Here are a few questions that I periodically ask myself to check my obedience and to ask God to help me clean up my act.

a. Am I holding un-forgiveness towards someone for any reason? If so, I need to release it!

b. Do I know that I was told to do something and I haven’t done it yet?  If so, I need to DO IT!!

c. Have I sinned and not asked God for forgiveness? If so, then I need to get on my knees and ask. Then I need to forgive myself. I can’t continue beating myself up  — if the God of the universe forgives me, then surely I can forgive myself too!

d. Am I ungrateful? If so, I remind myself to be grateful and say “thank you” to God, who loves me more than I can imagine. I give praise and thanks in even the smallest things, so that He constantly hears how much I love him!

If being a “slave” to obedience leads to righteousness and holiness, then bind me up and tell me what to do! If it also leads to God’s favor and abundance, then tie those knots even tighter!


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