Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 – Obeying Out of Fear vs. Obeying Out of Love

Posted: January 22, 2017 in Book of Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 (Part 5 of 7)

A Call to Love and Obedience

 

One of the dangers of writing yesteday’s blog about the fact that we serve God because of thanksgiving for what He saved us from is that it might cause people to want salvation out of a sense of needing “fire insurance.” True salvation, however, comes from seeing and understanding the punishment we deserve and laying ourselves at the feet of Jesus Christ and begging him to cover us in His mercy. There are some though that want salvation so as to ensure that they do not go to hell. When salvation is purchasing “fire insurance” (when we fear the alternative of heaven), then it is not salvation at all.

 

As children, there is a difference between obeying our parents because we have a reverent respect for their authority than it is to obey them because we fear getting beaten for not obeying them. When a child lives in a violent home under the dictatorial rule of an uneven father, it is like living a life walking on eggshells. A child living in that environment obeys the father simply to keep the peace, to keep from getting beaten. And it is often not just the children who have to live this way, most of the time, it is a wife who has to live this way as well. They live in fear of suffering the wrath of the husband. Life becomes about figuring out what the father’s likes and dislikes are and how not to set them off into a physical rage. It is no way to live. Fear is not a great motivator. Fear will teach us to avoid punishment rather than teach us permanent life lessons.

 

My home growing up was one where I knew that my dad was the boss. I knew that he would punish me for violating his rules. When I was young kid, it was often a whipping but as I grew older while living at home, it was the loss of freedoms (restrictions) that began to be his preferred form of punishment. I knew dad was in authority. But although I respected him, I also loved him. He was the same guy that would wrestle with us in the floor. He was the same guy that would sit and talk to us and give us advice on how to live life. He was the one who would teach us stuff about life. He was the one that would joke around with us. He would play ball with us. Bottom line, I knew that my dad loved me. I knew too that he was dad, and he was the ultimate authority in our house. There was that tension between knowing that he loved us and realizing that he was the boss. I obeyed my father’s rules as much as I could not because of fear but because I respected him and I trusted that he had a reason for his requests of me and my behavior. I obeyed my father as much as I could because I did not want to see that look of disappointment on his face when we did not obey. That was the motivator. Making my dad proud and seeing him smile when realize we got the point was my motivator. I knew that my dad loved me and had my best interest at heart (even if I did not want to admit it). I think that is a whole different ballgame than obeying someone out of fear alone. I wanted to see the smile on my dad’s face when I obeyed rather than that look of how I let him down when I did not. That would be the worst. Disappointing him. That feeling was worse than any punishment.

 

Obeying a parent out of knowing that they love you and not because of the fear of losing the peace was what I thought of this morning. With that idea of obedience out of love in mind, let’s read Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 together:

 

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

 

14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

Love and Obey the Lord

 

11 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea[a] as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done

 

In this series of blogs, we are talking about how we should relate to God. Today, we look at why we should obey God as part of that relationship. When I think about my relationship with my dad, I obeyed him because I knew he had my best interest ultimately at heart. I obeyed him because I would rather someone kick me in the gut than see my dad look at me with disappointment in his eyes. I obeyed my father because I knew he loved me. I knew too he would not forever hold my misbehaviors against me provided that I had learned my lesson from his discipline. It is the same way with our Father in heaven.

 

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:17. When we are remade by the Holy Spirit, we understand that God loves us and that we should obey His commands not out of a sense that we are trying avoid hell by doing all the right things. We should obey His commands not because we are trying to keep the peace with some capricious, remote God. We should obey His commands because we know that He knows what’s best for us. We should obey His commands because we love Him and would rather have a punch in the gut than for God to be disappointed in us. We obey because we want God to smile because we get the point that He is trying to make. We obey God because we know that we are loved by Him. We know this because He sent us His Son so that we could be reconciled to Him.

 

We obey God not because we want to avoid hell but rather because we love our Abba Father and we know that He loves us. When we accept Christ as our Savior and He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, yes, that is when we realize what we have been saved from – the depths of hell. But it is also reminds us of how much God loves us – that though we are not perfect that we are worth saving. That though we deserve hell, He loves us so much that He gave us Jesus. Love motivates us not fear. Avoiding hell is no motivator, but pleasing a loving God who we know has our best interest at heart is. We obey because of love not fear. We obey because there is evidence of God’s love for us through Jesus’ sacrifice. We obey not to impress. We obey to make our Father in heaven smile. We obey because of love.

 

Amen and Amen.

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