Training for Reigning - 52 - Why be Obedient

IF THERE is one word in the Bible which few Christians really love, I think it is the verb "obey." Personally, I never have cared for it; in fact I have given up all hope of ever acquiring a taste for it. Indeed, it is perfectly natural to feel rebellious toward the idea of obedience, and to expect, rather, to captain our own ship, to do as we wish, directing our courses according to our own inclinations and judgment - . . just as Eccl. 11:9 points out. And yet we find the principle of Obedience stressed on almost every page of God’s Word; while every commandment, every exhortation in the New Testament is a direct call to obey.
But why, oh why, should so much obedience be required of us? Is it because our God is an arbitrary Being Who thinks only of His own glory, and Who makes endless demands upon us just because He is all-powerful, supreme?
Now it must be admitted that none of us would care to, answer "yes" to that question. Yet is it not strange that Christians rarely bother to consider what the reasons for it actually are? We recognize that the Lord has a right to expect us to obey Him because we belong to Him. We know, too, that He is good, and doeth good. So it is that with many a sigh, grunt or groan we settle down to do our tiresome duty, considering ourselves remarkably virtuous for doing so.
After all, apart from our natural disinclinations, it isn’t always easy to obey. Other people’s ideas, purposes and plans may be affected by our obedience, requiring unpleasant adjustments in them. Besides, while we realize that we must accept a measure of obedience as our proper responsibility, yet who wants to keep on being obedient all the time? Other young people don’t do it.
We admit that the Lord Jesus was acting in obedience every minute of every day and night, and that 1 John 2:6 calls upon us to walk as He walked. But generally we are able to remind ourselves that He was perfect, and that we are not. Haying thus quietened our consciences, we find no trouble in turning to something less challenging, something more interesting - to be quite frank.
The answer comes easily; and in stating it a flood of light is let in on our natural reactions. It is that, since our natures have been spoiled by sin, THE MAKE-UP OF OUR PERSONALITIES IS LOADED WITH DEFECTS. Moreover, although we discern them without difficulty in others, we are largely unconscious of our own defects, alas? the bitter truth is that we, literally, are loaded down with personality blemishes, which our blessed God seeks to teach us to OVERCOME - in view of the ages to come. Commenting on the present tense aspect of Rom. 8:29, one has said: "When a man is born again the Holy Spirit begins to work in him, ‘both to will and to do of His good pleasure’ (Phil. 2:13), and to conform him to the image of Christ. This work is progressive; it is salvation from the power of sin." Thus the first benefit of obedience is, that to the extent that we are learning "to will and to do of His good pleasure," to that extent we are becoming more like His Son, and are being delivered from the mastery of indwelling Sin.
Unhappily, not a few Christians see but little advantage in bothering too much about such conformity here in this life, except as a matter of rewards by and by. They argue like this:
"What’s the use of all this concern? We know we can’t be perfect down here anyway, but we will be up there." Thus the ages-to-come importance of it never enters their heads.
Since it is not easy to explain this feature in so many words, let me illustrate this way: A man is ordered to exhibit all the apples from a selected tree. He is not to discard a single apple; yet none is to be exhibited with a single defect, either! What is he to do? Placing his best fruit on the top rows, the less shapely ones below them, he solves the problem of the great number of blemished apples BY CUTI1NG OUT THE DEFECTS with his knife. Thus his lower rows will be filled with fruit fairly splotched with cut-out patches - a sorry sight to see? YET NOT AN APPLE WILL HAVE A SINGLE DEFECT. Moreover, all may receive the same careful polishing and be exhibited in the same place and style. But had the grower been able to OVERCOME THOSE BLEMISHES WHILE THE FRUIT WAS IN FOR MATION how different the display might have been? For the effects, the results of those defects, never could be effaced.
Yes, all the natural, but sin-spoiled, counsels of our hearts will be removed at the Bema; 1 Cor. 4:5. And we shall appear "dressed in beauty not our own." Yet, if there shall be regrets in Heaven, surely they will be many when we realize - at last - what might have been! Then we shall see that obedience to the Lord in everything was His means of enabling us to overcome those defects while our lives were in formation.
So, those of us who display bad temper, or who go forth hastily to strive, or are discontented, jealous, selfish, conceited, indolent, spiteful, indifferent to the needs, or welfare of others, are given to levity, fault-finding, saying cutting things, getting even with others, to ostentatious living (1 John 2:16) and, or, other such evils resulting from the defective counsels of our hearts, HAVE OUR CHANCE TO ALTER THEM NOW. For obedience is the royal specific designed to enable us to overcome them "while there’s time and opportunity."