{Matthew 21:28-31; NLT}
“But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. Which of the two was obeying his father?”

How we live says more about what we believe about God than all our confessions of faith. It is relatively easy to say something, but it is another thing altogether to let that belief be seen in the way we live.

In this simple parable we discover that each son heard their father’s request, neither one could plead ignorance of what their father expected. The lesson that Jesus taught is that it is through our actions that our love for God is seen. Just as the love of the two sons was discovered in their obedience rather than in their words; our love for God is seen in obedience rather than in our songs of praise and our confessions of faith. Our obedience reveals what is in our hearts.

Consider what Henry and Richard Blackaby wrote in their book Hearing God’s Voice; “Obedience is the key to experiencing God. Jesus said the way we respond to God’s Word is a direct reflection of our love for him (John 14:15).” (p. 245). This means that it is vitally important that we evaluate what our lives are saying about our love for God.

Our obedience reveals the love and trust we have in God. It is rather simple to be a religious person and to be seen as a person of faith. All you need to do is to show up at church every Sunday, give a little, and have a few dust collectors from the Christian book store and you are good to go. It is significantly more difficult to actually follow Jesus, to love the outsiders, to give generously, and to sacrifice time and prestige to serve the less fortunate. To do so requires us to love God more than anything in this world and to trust Him to bring about the provision that we need in our lives.

For us to obey we first need to know God’s will. Part of knowing God’s will is understanding the big picture. We need to know what God is doing in the world at large. We can discover this as we look at Jesus’ ministry. Jesus announced and ushered in the Kingdom of God into this world. This is seen, not only in his teaching, but also in his miracles as he healed the lame, cleansed the lepers, gave sight to the blind, fed the hungry, and raised the dead. It is seen in his selfless sacrifice on the cross that defeated sin and the promise of the resurrection as we look forward to the hope of new life.

Part of knowing God’s will is understanding God’s call on our lives. This will always fall within the bigger picture. God’s will for our lives will always have something to do with bringing His kingdom into this world and into the lives of people. We discover God’s will through prayer, reading the Bible, the input of other Christians, and the circumstances of our lives. God will reveal His will to us if we are willing to hear it.

When God reveals a need to us, our responsibility is to find way to meet that need. When God puts a project on our heart, our responsibility is to get involved. When God shows us a service which needs to be done, our responsibility is to serve. We won’t just say that we follow Jesus, but we will show that we follow him through the way that we live. It is our obedience that makes the lights of our love for God shine the brightest.

Questions to Consider:

  • Why is our love for God tied to our obedience?
  • Are you struggling with obeying God in a certain area of your life?
  • Is there anything we can do to help us in our quest to obey God?
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