Friday, September 28, 2012

To Obey is Okay, To Honor is...

A friend sent me this in his daily verse: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. (Psalm 51:12 NLT).

I don't particularly like the NLT translation and prefer the ESV, and occasionally reference the KJV or NIV and a few others.  The ESV translation of the latter part of that verse is "uphold me with a willing spirit" instead of "make me willing to obey you." I think it goes much deeper than mere obedience. You can obey someone without ever having a relationship with someone.  I think it's more about having a spirit that joins together with the Spirit of God in His purposes. I was motivated to write back...

For family devotion one night, I decided to start with a question. What does the word 'honor' mean to you? The first answer I got was 'respect' from my son, and 'appreciation' (big word!) from my daughter, and my wife added 'revere'.  Then, I suggested that to 'obey' just means to do what you're told and they nodded in agreement. We could clearly see that 'honor' was not the same as 'obey'.

Next, I read Ephesians 6:1-2* and pointed out that while Ephesians 6:1 says for children to 'obey' parents, Ephesians 6:2 says to 'honor your father and mother'.  Obviously, the two adjacent verses were not merely emphasizing the same point, as if to say, "obey and I mean it."  Rather, it means to at least obey (v1), but the real goal is to honor (v2).

I think about our Father that way.  There is a goal and it is not merely to obey.  He wants to have a relationship with us.  He loves us, absolutely adores us, and He wants us to choose to love Him in return. As a child, simple obedience is required for their protection and training.  As we mature, let us move beyond that into honor, and eventually delight, just as He delights in us.  (Remember, as Christians, He is 'in us' by His Spirit, not just 'in our midst' like He was in the OT, from which this verse is taken.)

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

* The verse I reference above is: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother", (Ephesians 6:1-2a)

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