Tag Archives: obedience

Doing the Right Thing

Photo by Andy T on Unsplash

It’s fun watching animals perform tricks. At the zoo amphitheater a bird trainer signals his feathered friends to fly from the back, over the audience, and up to the stage. Dolphins perform their tricks in a large tank at an aquarium facility. Dogs, too, are great at doing tricks.

As different as these talented creatures are, they all have something in common; each is given a treat by their master after performing a trick. They get immediate reward for doing the right thing, instant gratification. Not always so with us!

Those of us who are serious about God, loving Him, and seeking to follow His will for us, don’t often get an immediate reward for doing the right thing. Sometimes we do what’s right and it turns out all wrong. At the very least it doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would.

We try to do what’s honest and right, but someone who does what’s dishonest and wrong comes out ahead. We take the time and effort to help out someone, and they don’t appreciate it, or worse yet, misunderstand and get angry! We pray for something good to happen, but it doesn’t happen. We try to do everything the way we think it should be done, and we don’t see the results we expected.

Sometimes the results come much later than we would like. Dr. William Leslie went to the Congo in Africa in 1912 to be a missionary. After 17 years he came back home, discouraged and defeated, feeling he had done little good over all those years of spreading the Gospel. In 2010 a group visited the isolated area and found a number of thriving churches. Upon investigation, they discovered that they were the result of Dr. Leslie’s work over 80 years earlier!

Dr. Leslie’s life is a testimony to the truth that we’re to be obedient and leave the results up to God. Results are largely out of our control. Other people can respond or react the way they want; we can’t control them. Circumstances, too, are not under our control. Add to this the sovereign will of God that is most certainly beyond our control. There’s one thing, however, that we can control and that is deciding to do the right thing, carrying out God’s will for us, being obedient to Him.

Oftentimes in the Bible God asked people to obey Him, but it didn’t always get positive results. Many a Bible character ended up being misunderstood, ostracized, beaten, or even killed for doing what God called them to do. Jesus’ crucifixion is the ultimate example.

God doesn’t call us to be successful but obedient. If we do our best and do what we think God wants of us, that is success!

God speaking to Ezekiel the prophet about prophesying to God’s people, “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen…” Ezekiel 2:7

Obedience Is More Important Than Results

In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown complains to Linus that every day his lunch is the same, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. “Who makes your lunch?” Linus asks. Charlie Brown replies, “I do.”

In large measure we make our own lunch. We have more of a choice than we often think we have as to what’s in our paper bag!

Phyllis Hurwitz studied piano and violin and attended the School of American Ballet. She said, “I had great parents. I broke my leg and they gave me a book on ventriloquism. It was just so natural to me.” She became a ventriloquist, and using the name Shari Lewis, spent a lifetime entertaining children, of whom I was one, with her puppets Lamb Chop, Charlie Horse, and Hush Puppy. No one likes a broken leg, but Shari’s broken leg helped her to take a step in a whole new direction, and millions of people are glad she did!

It’s tempting to complain about the way things are; it takes less effort than deciding to do something about changing things to the way they could be. We can also move from complaining to blaming, blaming someone else for our predicament. Okay, some things can’t be changed, including what someone else has done to us, but we can change our attitude about those things we can’t change!

We have a God-given ability to make choices. We’re not like a bump-n-go toy that mindlessly changes direction when it hits up against something. We can plot a course!

Oswald J. Smith wanted to be a missionary but was considered too frail for such a life. His response? “If I can’t go myself, I will send someone else.” He did! He founded The People’s Church of Toronto, Canada, a large church that has been known world-wide for giving an extraordinary amount of their budget to missions around the world. Rev. Smith himself made 21 world tours promoting evangelism and world missions.

We can adopt a victim mentality or make the choice to find victory in it. Whatever less than ideal situation we find ourselves in, God knew we would be exactly where we are, and He has a plan. That can, and should, change our attitude about whatever challenge, problem, or setback we face. We have the God-given gift of choice; we pack our own lunch!

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” Psalm 143:8