Why Do We Obey?

By Pastor Teck Uy

We always wonder why we obey the Lord the way we do. Is it because we are forced to do so by the various commands in the Bible? If so, why do we still see many who are serving the Lord cheerfully and not grudgingly? According to the Psalmist, the reason why we serve the Lord is not because we are being forced to obey his commands. Rather, we obey because we love his commands. He said, “I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly” (Psalm 119:167). If obedience is forced on us, serving the Lord will be a burden and will be seen in the manner we serve. However, if it is prompted by love, we give of our best in our service.

If we love the Lord, obeying his commands will be a delight. This attitude of delighting in the Lord’s commands will give us confidence as we walk in our Christian faith. The Psalmist further said, “Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight” (v. 143). As we delight in the Lord and commit to love and obey his Words, we need to be conscious about what might spoil this. The warning for us is to “let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10).

Loving and delighting in the commands of the Lord bring enormous blessings. We are given excellent reasons why we need to love the command of the Lord when the Psalmist said, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts” (Psalm 119:97-100). There is no way by which he who loves the commands of the Lord will not enjoy his life fully. He will be blessed in all his ways for he has the wisdom that comes from God.

The Psalmist gave another good reason for obeying the Lord saying, “I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you” (Psalm 119:168). Because we cannot hide anything from the Lord, it is best that we obey him fully. We cannot pretend to be obeying him when there is murmuring in our hearts. And since we have committed to love and serve the Lord, we might as well do so openly and cheerfully. In his proverbs, even King Solomon testified that all our ways are known to the Lord (Prov. 5:21). We should then come before him just as we are. Though we are saddled with sin, the Lord still sees the sincerity in our hearts.  Therefore, our obedience should be unhindered and should reveal our true self as we open up to the Lord.

Fear is one of the major reasons that we obey the command of the Lord. This fear is not just reverential fear but the dread of the consequence of disobedience. In fact, this is the same fear that brings us to the Lord for salvation. The Bible tells us that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 10:9). However, we must understand that this fear of the Lord is just the beginning of wisdom. This means that we shall not live in fear or dread forever. The apostle Paul explained, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship” (Rom. 8:15). The fear that we have will give us the wisdom to “hate what is evil and cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9). Therefore, our wisdom will bring us closer to the Lord and move us to obey his commands because we find life in them.

Our obedience to the Lord prompted by our love and the realization that all our ways are known to him, coupled with the fact that we have the fear of the Lord, will be handsomely rewarded. The Lord through the Psalmist said, “Because he loves me I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16). These promises should cause us to give our full obedience to the Lord. Therefore, let us do what we are doing not out of obligation but out of our love for the Lord. When we obey his commands, let us not do it grudgingly but cheerfully, knowing that our obedience will bring about the salvation of our soul. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21). Hallelujah!