That word, “Obey.” When you hear it, does it ring beauty like harp strings? Or slam down hard like a bully’s club? Does it seem to free your soul, or oppress it?

1 John 5:3 says,

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

If that’s true, why can the very word “obey” seem to fall so heavy, blare in deep tones inside head and heart, sounding so akin to “odi-ous!”

Is it maybe because we have a bent to oppress ourselves?

A bent bent?

Consider: Have you just made a bunch of commands for yourself to obey in the coming year?

Lose twenty pounds!

Read through that Bible, before next January!

Memorize a new verse every week!

Don’t step on a crack!

Run that vacuum cleaner. every. Friday!

List three whatever’s. every. single. day!

Don’t forget to journal something. daily!

Publish a blog post. every. weekday!

They’re little, those nagging orders—well, some of them. In more ways than one. But any one of them alone can. get. oppressive…. When you’re sick, or lying injured, or struck with grief. When your sleep deficit has grown like the nation’s money one, so neither mind nor body are working right, and all the pile of others’ demands is lying right in your path, making O-bedience to your self-commands impossible…!

Be careful with resolutions. Be gracious, as God is gracious—with yourself.

And maybe, maybe… we ought to leave off ordering ourselves about with orders not belonging to God, or His children.

Was it just by chance that I happened on Colossians 2:20-22  this morning, before facing this “odious” word Obey as my writing topic, as a step in the path closer to God? I don’t think so.

When I decided that after                            C-alling on God, then L-ooking to Him for strength and instruction, O-beying only follows as good sense, I was thinking…

only of God’s commands and instructions

only of those things that delight His Spirit and make me more like Him.

Some of His commands do seem hard to obey. In fact, some are, well, truly


in our humanness, in our feeble strength.

But, as Colossians 3:1-3 says, if we were raised with Christ to newness of life, we have died! Our strength and abilities aren’t limited to that corpse of self groveling in defeat at our feet. We have Christ within. And Christ within will easily put on Christ without and do the will of Christ in the Spirit of Christ.

But oh, how we hinder Him with self-designed rules and expectations! How they can become a maze of demands just past the door of each day’s waking, beneath which we can’t even see God’s perfect law of love and liberty!

So, I wish you (and I wish me!) a happy obedient new year, this bright and shining 2013, happy in Him, and obedient to His commands… that are not burdensome.


[More on this in a future post]


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16 thoughts on “Obey! A Four-Letter Word?

  1. We wrote down just one resolution, my husband and I, to be more consistent in studying God’s word (we even defined what that meant to each of us)…but my mind has been filled with all the usual: get organized, loose weight, exercise, none of which I felt I could start until after the upcoming competition. I do put many demands on myself! Colossians is what I needed…I have been reading in the Old Testament…last night it was Nehemiah where the people took an oath to follow God’s law…but we have a NEW Covenant–Thankfully so. I love the part where you say “We have Christ within. And Christ within will easily put on Christ without and do the will of Christ in the Spirit of Christ.”
    “My yoke is easy and my burden is Light”

  2. Yup, Laurie. I know. I do the same thing. (Which is what enables me to write this so knowingly!)
    Praying an easy yoke and a light burden for you today and in the coming days!

  3. That word does strike disdain into the heart of many. I used to be one of them… Then again, my title at that time could have or should have been; fool.

    Wisdom from God lets us know that when we’re one with Him we realize our weakness and need for the One who designed us to help us. That is when we find His strength within… That strength that changes our lives and the world and inparts peace and joy that the fools only dream of…

  4. I love your list of possible resolutions. So true! Let us just seek to be with Him and follow. Thanks!

  5. Oh, Joe, you make me laugh! I made *that* resolution years ago—and broke it, too! hah!
    Happy New Year!

  6. Floyd, you’re one step ahead of me. Just before coming in here I was writing (almost spontaneously) offline what will probably be my next post, along exactly the lines you’re talking about. Thanks for that unknowing confirmation!

  7. Pam, it occurs to me that we’re often way harder on ourselves than God is! And that the key to living the Christ life lies in that simple purpose you wrote: “Let us just seek to be with Him and follow.” Thank you!

  8. Oop-di-do. I was in a half-panic because things were interrupting my obedience. You brought me back to earth with this phrase “we hinder Him with self-designed rules and expectations”. He says to me, “Dawn, what will you do if I interrupt your list? Will you obey?” Ok, ok…I get it!

  9. Timely, then, Dawn. God usually speaks to His beloved so gently, doesn’t He? Glad this could be a little piece of something He used that way. Blessings!

  10. I love how thought provoking your posts are, and they are very well written. The only resolution that I made this year was to spend more time teaching my youngest to cook. He loves cooking and it will be a great teaching experience 🙂

  11. That’s a good one, Foodie. I’m so glad I taught my boys to cook. It can be survival later! And enjoyment otherwise. Thanks for stopping over to visit and comment!

  12. Yep, Aisha, they do go together, don’t they?
    Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  13. Sylvia, I have to admit that the word “obey” brings up bad feelings in me. It’s not because of what I have done to myself, but what others have done to the word. You are so right that our obedience is for Christ alone. I am resolved to feel good about that!

  14. Yes, Tereasa! I do know what you mean! Spiritual (or other) abusers ruin beautiful things, don’t they? And we can so easily project what we’ve seen in them onto our dear, loving Lord. I know I’ve done it, and found it hard to overcome. But He knows our frame, and gently works with us, taking it as slowly as we need, to redevelop that trust that’s been damaged. That is the worst part of spiritual abuse, methinks.
    I think I’m going to be addressing this in an upcoming post about “Trust and Obey.” So important to not to “put your trust in princes,” but in the Prince of Peace instead!
    Love and prayers to you.

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