What is the difference between “acting right” and “being obedient”? In our prayer time this morning, my wife and I were convicted that we needed to switch modes - to change our “act right” into “be obedient”.
Too often we act rightly. This is an action - doing the right thing. It is, by it’s nature, not inherently wrong. But if “acting right” becomes our modus operandi, it will ultimately fail. We don’t have it within us to do righteousness. Instead, we should strive to be obedient. To be obedient is to focus on the One we are being obedient to. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey all that I have commanded.” [Jn 14:15] To be obedient is to love God. He also said, "apart from me, you can do nothing." [Jn 15:5] You can bear no fruit of obedience without being connected to Jesus (a.k.a. abiding).
I so easily fall into the trap of going through my days working hard to do the right things. Are you like me? Our busy culture entangles us in a web of harried activities. Satan loves for Jesus-followers to get so busy doing “good things” that they forget to rest in simple obedience to Christ. When I read the gospels, I never get the sense that Jesus was busy, or harried, or behind schedule. With all that he needed to accomplish - you know, saving the world - He still spent massive amounts of time in Sabbath rest and prayerfulness! This allowed Him to hear God and then take that next step of obedience, no more and no less. So what did Jesus do? “I do nothing but what the Father tells me to do.”
Can we live this way? Can we be obedient? Only if that being is in Him. Being in His Word. Being prayerful. Being still and knowing He is God. I feel Jesus saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary of acting right and burdened by busy-ness, and I will give you rest.” The yoke of acting right is heavy but being obedient is light and feels more like love than law.
photo taken by Ken Shackelford, 2017 on Table Mountain in Cape Town, S. Africa