This article is part of a limited series called Be A Man. These articles are taken from a Bible study I conducted for several months. The purpose of these blogs is to examine and discuss what it means to be a man, a husband and a father according to the Bible, and how we are to live that out in our modern world. While the Bible study was originally for men, not all topics are gender specific, meaning that women, wives, and mothers can still learn and be encouraged from these articles.
I’m sure if we asked parents of young children they would say, unanimously, that there is one response to your answers that is the most annoying thing a child can say. It is the most annoying question that they can ask, and to make it worse, children tend to ask it more than once, and that is, “But why?” And it is the response that is just the beginning of an endless cycle of whys that is the root cause of many parents’ sanity leaving and hair being pulled out.
But why? As we grow older, we still ask why. Why are things this way? Why can’t they be that way? Why can’t I do this my way? Why is your way the only right way? Why? Why? Why?
The whys we as adults ask may not be as random as a child’s, but ours seem to probe the deeper things. Like why should we obey God? Why should we do what He tells us? After Part 2 and 3, it occurred to me that I didn’t answer the why. Why should men do these things? Why should men obey God when He says to be a selfless king and serve those under our authority? Why should men be worried or concerned about the earth and the animals and plants on it? Why?
These are not bad questions. In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are essential to growing in relationship with God. Likewise, they are essential to understanding who we are supposed to be as men. When I sat down to think about why men, in particular, should be doing what God has commanded, doing what God has called them to do, I came up with 3 distinct reasons for our obedience.
1. God’s Word Is Not Filled With Death
While some people will complain about the Bible being so restrictive, the opposite is actually true. They may feel that the Bible is dampening, even snuffing out their life, God’s Word is offering them a better life. Obedience to God’s Word offers us a fuller life.
I am going to give you the abridged version of the story found in Joshua 7.
Joshua and the nation of Israel are moving into the Promised Land, and in the process, helping the old tenants, or nations, move out. God was working with Israel as long as they listened to His rules. One of His rules was that Israel was not to take any plunder, riches or clothing from the conquered people. If they did, God would not help Israel in this eviction of nations.
We know that when a parent says don’t do something, a child will do it anyways. The same is true for God, the Parent, and Israel, His children. One man out of the whole nation of Israel disobeyed God and took plunder, riches, and clothing. So God didn’t help Israel, and when Israel went to war, they were totally defeated.
Joshua knew that this would only have happened if Israel had been disobedient to God. So Joshua asked God to show him who it was that disobeyed. God showed him the one man that took the plunder, riches, and clothes. Joshua asked the man if it was true, that he had disobeyed God’s command. It was. And then, Joshua and the people of Israel stoned the man, his entire family, and all his animals to death.
While some people will get stuck on the details, like God sanctioning war and the death of people, they tend to miss the big, overarching truths that the Bible is filled with. Like this one. Obedience to God brings life. Doing as God said doesn’t bring death and destruction upon your family. Ignoring God and what He said does.
“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I [Jesus] speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” – John 6.63 NKJV
2. We Are Invited And Should Play Simon Says
I’m sure that when you were a kid Simon Says was a game that you played. If not, I’ll quickly tell you how it goes.
Of a group of children, one is nominated to be Simon. Simon stands apart from the group and gives orders to the rest of the kids. Normally Simon will get kids to do physically active things, like bouncing up and down, standing on one leg or doing jumping jacks. Whatever Simon says, the kids are to do. But there is a catch. The kids are only to do as Simon says when each command is started with “Simon Says”. If Simon declares, “Simon Says, stand on one leg”, all the kids must do as he/she says or they are out of the game. But if Simon declares something without having first said “Simon Says” anyone that does the action is out. Those that do not adhere to a command lacking “Simon Says” are still in the game.
It is a very simple game and can have children entertained for hours. But what most children, and most likely parents as well, do not realize is that this is a perfect example of how we are to respond to God and His word.
Now the quick assumption may be to think that God is the cosmic Simon, telling us what to do. That isn’t a bad thought, but not the one I had in mind. Throughout Scripture, God does, in fact, call His people to obedience, but He isn’t the only one.
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11.1
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in the first century and tells them, “SIMON SAYS..Do what I do. Simon Says act the way that I act. Obey the words that God has spoken, just as I have and am continuing to do.”
Often times we look to the heroes of the Bible as our examples. We look at people like Abraham, Moses, Joshua, the Disciples, and Paul as the blueprint for what we should look like as followers of God. This is only normal, as all little boys want to emulate their heroes, so men emulate the people they look up to.
But if we are going to look up to these biblical examples, if we are going to do as they did, if we are conscientiously deciding to play a game of Simon Says, we need to be aware of something. These men became heroes of the faith, first and foremost, because they obeyed God.
Abraham obeyed God when He told him to leave his homeland in search of the Promise Land. Moses obeyed God when He said to lead Israel out of captivity in Egypt. Joshua obeyed when God told him to walk around the walls of Jericho.The disciples obeyed when Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Spirit. And Paul obeyed when God called him to be a missionary to the Gentiles.
Obedience was key. If we are going to do as they did, if we are going to act like our heroes did, we must realize that we are going to need to obey God. If we are going to play Simon Says with these biblical heroes, we need to be ready to do what God has called us to do.
3. Look, I Have Dead Faith
I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about me or what I am talking about here. And while you may think that this should have been my first point, I thought I would save the most penitent for last.
I do NOT believe that it is by works that we are saved. I do NOT believe that it is by strict obedience to the Law or God’s Word that we are saved. The Law does not have the power to save me or you from our sins. And there is no way that we can obey everything that it says in the most comprehensive way possible. We have and do and will always fail miserably if we try to find our salvation in our works.
Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” – Ephesians 2.8-9
It is not by strict obedience that we find salvation, but it is by the grace of God.
That being said, that is not everything. That is not the whole truth. Yes, we are saved by grace and not works, but that doesn’t mean those works doesn’t have a place in the Christian life. Obedience can’t save us, but that doesn’t excuse us from obeying.
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” – James 2. 14-24, 26
Some people would point to what Paul said and what James said and declare this as a contradiction. On the contrary, these two work hand in hand. Paul declares that it is by faith, not works, that we are saved. James declares that once we are saved, our faith compels us to work. To have one and not the other doesn’t work. Works without faith are dead. Faith without works is dead. They are useless alone. Together, they work in perfect harmony. To think or act otherwise is to disregard what the Scriptures say. If you have faith, you need to be acting on it.
If you have a faith in God, you need to be doing something. And in this case, that something you need to be doing is obedience to what God says. If you have a trusting relationship with Jesus, you need to be acting on the commandments that He gave.
My wife said it perfectly,
“Saying you have faith in what God has told you to do, and then NOT doing it, tells everyone and God, that you have no faith at all. You want proof. If you truly believe in what God has said and have faith in him that he will follow through, then there is no reason not to follow through with action.”
This is not new. This is not news. This is how we are supposed to be living. It is black and white, literally. If we are going to call ourselves “men of faith” or people with a relationship with God, then we need to take our faith and put it into action. We need to obey God. We need to do as He as called us to.
I would be lying to you if I said that obeying God, doing what He has said was easy. In most cases, it is the most difficult, stretching, and humbling thing that you can do. Especially when it comes to serving those below us, especially when it comes to taking care of a planet that most people neglect. But we need to do it.
Being obedient to God isn’t easy, but it is a life-giving decision. Like we see in the life of Israel when Joshua was their leader, disobedience to God is death. Obedience to God is life.
Being obedient to God isn’t easy, but it is what the heroes we look up to did. The men of faith that we want to imitate continually did as God had commanded. If we are going to be like our heroes, we will obey God as well.
Being obedient to God isn’t easy, but it is at the center of our faith. Without the action, without the doing as God has said, our faith is useless. It is dead. If we actually have a faith, as we claim, there needs to be something done, some action taken. We need to obey.
This is why I call all men to obey God when He said to Adam, take care of the people that you have power and authority over.
This is why I call all men to obey God when He said to Adam, take care of the Earth and the animals and plants living on it.
It won’t be easy, but it is necessary. And a man of faith will do it no matter what.
That is what it means to be a man.
All Scripture references provided by Biblegateway.com
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