While there are many passages in the Bible that emphasize obedience, there are none that explains its full meaning better than Deuteronomy 4:1-2 which reads: “Now therefore, hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them…Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
This passage not only calls upon Israel to obey God’s commands, it also furnishes us with two important aspects of genuine obedience. First, obedience means to do only what God has authorized: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you.” Second, obedience means to do all that God commands: “Neither shall ye diminish ought from it.”
This same principle of obedience is stated in another way in Deuteronomy 5:32: “Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.”
What does it mean to obey? It means to do exactly what God commands – neither adding to nor taking away, neither turning to the right hand nor to the left.
In Ephesians 4:31-32 Paul writes: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” In this passage we are given some vital instruction on how to get along with each other.
First, the apostle presents the negative side. There are certain things which are out: 1- bitterness (long-standing resentment) 2- wrath (outbreaks of passion) 3- anger (long-lived anger) 4- clamour (loud talking and insulting language) 5- and all malice. As Christians we must work to remove all these from our lives.
Next, the apostle presents the positive side. He writes: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” We are all imperfect human beings. We will not be able to live at peace with one another if we demand perfection of our brother while we ourselves are imperfect. The Christian’s attitude toward his brothers and sisters in Christ should always be one of kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.
When Christians manifest this attitude toward one another, Satan is hard pressed to disrupt the harmony of God’s people.
Peter at the house of Cornelius said of Jesus, “He went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38)
There are many things Jesus could have done. He could have been king. On one occasion the people even tried to make Him such. (John 6:15) But He would not. He could have used His power to destroy His enemies. But He did not. Jesus could have stayed in heaven. But instead, He came to this earth and “went about doing good.”
Christians are to follow their master’s example. Paul wrote: “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). Paul charged those who are rich in this world’s goods: “That they be rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:18). In Titus chapter three we are told: “To be ready to every good work” (Titus 3:1); then again, “Be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8); and again, “Let our’s also learn to maintain good works” (Titus 3:14).
This is a true story. One Sunday several years ago, a couple attended a service of the West Dearborne, Michigan congregation. For some reason they were not impressed with the service and planned to go to a denominational church the following Sunday. They had no intentions of returning to West Dearborne.
However, on Friday evening of that week, two men from the congregation visited in the home of this couple. These men had no idea of the good they were doing. The people were so grateful for the visit they decided to return the following Sunday. They did and kept on coming. A short time later they were both baptized into Christ.
This man and woman are pillars in the Lord’s church in a distant city. It would be impossible to calculate the tremendous good they have done during the years since they were converted in West Dearborne.
Now why were they converted? Their salvation and all the good they have done since hinged upon one visit that seemed insignificant at the time. That call you will make (or neglect to make) this week might be just as important.