Decision: Obeying whether we feel like it or not

“I don’t want to clean my room,” yelled Sarah as she ran down the hall and slammed the door.

“Let me talk to her,” said Dad. He knocked and quietly opened the door to Sarah’s room finding her pouting on her bed.

“Why did you yell at Mom?” asked Dad softly.

“I don’t like cleaning!” said Sarah.

“Do you know how to do it?” asked Dad.

“Of course I know how!” said Sarah.

“That’s good,” said Dad. “Do you know where to start?”

“Mom taught me that too,” said Sarah.

“Good,” said Dad. “I thought she had.”

“Did you know that you show mom your love by doing what she asks?” asked Dad.

“I show love by cleaning my room?” asked Sarah. “I tell her every morning and night and sometimes between!”

“Those are good words to say often” said Dad. “But sometimes actions say it even better. God showed us that.”

“When,” asked Sarah?

“Do you remember the story we read last night about the Israelites in Leviticus 26?” asked Dad.

“Yes,” said Sarah, “God gave the Israelites rules and said that if the people would obey, things would go well and if they didn’t, things wouldn’t go so well.”

“Good remembering!” said Dad. “Was feeling like obeying ever mentioned?”

“Well, I don’t remember anything about that,” said Sarah hesitantly.

“Right” said Dad. “There is nothing in the Bible that talks about obedience being connected with whether we feel like doing something or not.”

“So we’re supposed to obey even if we don’t feel like it?” asked Sarah quietly.

“What do you think?” asked Dad.

“I suppose” said Sarah with a sigh.

“So,” said Dad, “what do you think should come next?”

“I guess I should tell Mom I’m sorry,” said Sarah sadly. Then, becoming even sadder she said, “Earlier Mom said that when I finished cleaning my room and she finished cleaning the kitchen we could walk to the park. Now she won’t do that!”

“How do you know?” asked Dad.

“Cause she’s mad at me,” said Sarah with a quivering lip. “Would she listen if I said I was sorry?”

“Based on what you know about Mom, what you think?” asked Dad.

After a pause Sarah said with a widening smile, “She would forgive me! I’ll talk to her now and then clean my room really fast so maybe we can still go to the park!”

We’re sometimes more like Sarah than we care to admit. We don’t always feel like doing what God would like us to do. That is a common struggle for any Christian. Paul said it well. “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:21-25

Just as Sarah demonstrated love for her mother by doing as she was told, we demonstrate our love for God by keeping his commands. “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands” 1 John 5:3.

Obeying even when we’d rather not, demonstrates the depth of our love for God. “But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in him” 1 John 2:5.

Sarah wondered if her mother would forgive her. We may sometimes fear that God won’t forgive us either, but he has promised he will if we ask. “Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you,” Psalm 103:2-4. What an amazing promise that is! Perhaps the depth of God’s love for us makes obedience, even when we don’t feel like it, a bit easier!

Helen McCormack writes the Reflections column every six weeks. She and her husband, David, serve with Wycliffe Bible Translators.