Careful Obedience – Part II
Key Verse: Luke 1:6-13
Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.
Additional Reading: Luke 1:57-80
I want to spend one more day on what “Careful Obedience” might look like.
One area that I have been praying more about lately is what theologians call, “sins of omission”. These are things we know are ought to do, but intentionally neglect to do them. God will not hold us responsible for things we didn’t do because they never entered our mind. Praise God, His grace will cover those things! But when we see something that we are strongly moved to do, but out of stubbornness or laziness never get around to doing, that is a sin of omission. When our minds are fully engaged and there is no doubt that God is speaking to us about a task, He wants us to do, we must work hard to be “careful in our obedience”, as Zechariah did in the scriptures for these lessons.
Let’s look at some examples of these sins of omission. As humans we are prone to think about our own wants over the wants of others. God will often remind us, as His children, to go back to a person that we didn’t show a Christ like submission to and apologize. When our pride gets in the way and we choose to neglect that task, that would be a “sin of omission”.
Suppose during a challenging meeting with some co-workers, you lose your cool and say some things that you later regret (by the help of God’s Holy Spirit). You feel certain that God is asking you to go and apologize to them. Will you be “careful to obey” or let it slide and make some excuse for yourself?
Another example of a sin of omission is reading something in the scriptures and that stands out to you. If you are a Christ-follower, you know how the Spirit of God can make certain scriptures “jump off the page” at you. When that happens, we must be careful to obey whatever that scripture was pointing out. If we aren’t careful, our reading is useless, and God can see that we had no intention of changing our behavior or doing some task that He wanted us to do! I was reading Isaiah 58:6-7, when God spoke to me about what kind of fasting He wanted: “to free those who are wrongly imprisoned, to let the oppressed go free, to share food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless, to give clothes to those who need them”. We may not know how to free the wrongly imprisoned or let the oppressed go free, but we certainly know how to feed the hungry and give clothes to those in need. God is never going to hold us accountable to the things we don’t know how to do. But He will expect all of us to do the things we KNOW how, and CAN do. When we don’t, those are sins of omission.
One more example of a sin of omission. The Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, versus 14-30, tell us a parable about good stewardship of money. I think most of us know that God expects us to be careful how we handle our money and not be so selfish that we spend it all on ourselves. Yet how many Christ-followers have excused themselves for their lack of money management? If God has made that point to you, are you being “careful to obey”? Maybe you need more training, are you actively looking for that training? Maybe you don’t need more training, but you do need more discipline when it comes to buying more “stuff” for yourself. Is God going to be pleased with you when you stand before Him and give an account for how you managed your money? Since most of us know that God wants us to be good stewards, the least we could do is pray for wisdom and self-control so that we have enough to share with those in need around us! Let’s all be CAREFUL TO OBEY!
Father, I open my life to you, clear away the blind spots and help me to be honest about my obedience to the things that you show me. Thanks for your grace and mercy to me. In Jesus’s Name, amen.