By Carol Becwar
Our granddaughter recently moved with her family to the Milwaukee area. We've gone into overdrive doing what we can to help our daughter and son-in-law settle in, including babysitting. We love having Gracie overnight, taking her along on errands, and joining in her goofy games. I've rediscovered that when children become secure with new caretakers, they start to act out and test boundaries. Of course, we cut her a lot of slack, but we do have a limit to what we'll tolerate.
I have to admit that God and I have a similar relationship. As I've grown closer to him, I have at times taken his call to obedience lightly because I felt secure in my salvation. But I've learned over time that he wants so much more of me and for me. I desire to listen more closely and obey God's commands, but how do I avoid my past complacency?
Obedience is an expression of my love for God and other humans. It stands out as a stronger witness of the gospel than mere words. Paul writes to the Corinthians:
The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honor and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else.
(2 Corinthians 9:13 Contemporary English Version)
Seeking to be more obedient challenges me every hour of the day. No sin is too small to offend God and influence my life. Every time I worry, I'm not trusting God. Every time I judge others, I'm inviting God's judgment of me. When I complain or gossip, my words grieve God and negatively affect others. When I'm proud, I deny God's sovereignty. The list is too long!
However, God has already given me the resources to change. The Gospel message assures me of my salvation through Jesus' death and resurrection. And the Holy Spirit encourages me to acknowledge my sins, then helps me to overcome them. As Paul tells the Philippians, God is on our team!
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2: 12-13 NIV)
In this lifetime I will never be perfectly obedient to God, but God sees my efforts and brings help through scripture and the Holy Spirit. Where I am weak and tempted, he gives me strength to avoid the pitfalls. When I judge others or allow myself to worry over things I cannot control, his Spirit redirects my thoughts.
As I watch Gracie figure out what is acceptable behavior, loving her unconditionally, I'm reminded of God's grace for me, bought at great price through the death of his beloved son.