Recently a friend of ours felt compelled in her heart to pray for me, my wife, and our family. In a conversation we had with her at a later date, she mentioned that she felt this leading by the Holy Spirit and at first tried to ignore it. However, this leading was so strong that she could not dismiss it any longer. She decided to obey what God was asking her to do and she prayed for us and went one step further – she emailed us a prayer to encourage us.
If I stopped here you would consider this a good story of being obedient to the leading of the Lord, but there is another side to this story. At the moment she sent us this prayer in obedience to the Lord, my wife and I were sitting in a hospital room. Our son is a leukemia survivor. During his annual visit to the oncologist his blood work revealed that his white blood cell counts were low. His counts are usually lower than the average person, but these were low even for him. The doctors were not sure what the cause was, so they wanted to do a bone marrow procedure to see if the cancer was coming back.
When we received that email, we were two concerned parents, nervous about what was going to happen. When she wrote that email, she was not aware of what we were experiencing – she just knew what God was asking her to do.
Not only was her email timely, but it reminded us again that God was with us. My wife and I were overcome by God’s faithfulness, and we wept as we were reminded of his goodness to us. You see there was another side to her obedience that she knew nothing about, and that’s where I want to focus your attention.
I have long known that the key to God’s blessing in your life is obedience. But what I now know even more is that your obedience is far more important than just your own blessing. Your obedience doesn’t just impact your life, your obedience or disobedience is impacting someone else’s life. Sometimes you may see the result of this and sometimes you may not. Let me give you two examples from Scripture.
In Genesis 12 we see the story of Abraham. God gave Abraham one command: leave where you live, take your family and go to a land I will show you. Along with this command God gave some incredible promises.
I am sure it is safe to say that Abraham had no idea the impact his obedience would have. God promised he would make him into a great nation and all the peoples of the earth would be blessed because of him. Well, Abraham died long before his people ever became a nation, let alone a great one. Yet if he had not taken this first step of obedience, none of this would have happened. His obedience blessed him, but it became the catalyst and open door to bless so many other people.
Your obedience is exactly the same way. You don’t know what will happen when you choose to obey God. You may see the impact of your obedience, or it’s possible you may never know the impact of your obedience. Whether you ever see it or not, rest assured your obedience is affecting people and situations around you.
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If you fast forward hundreds of years, we get to the place where God has made Abraham’s offspring into a great nation of people. They are about to conquer the great city of Jericho as they begin to take possession of the land God had promised to Abraham. During this time, they were given this instruction from Joshua.
I think a command and instruction like this is pretty clear. It leaves no room for interpretation. Somehow there was someone in Israel who didn’t quite follow this instruction.
If you read the story, Achan saw these precious items and his heart was filled with covetousness. He probably thought it’s just a few items, no one will even notice that I took them. After all what’s the big deal? Well, the big deal was that he was being disobedient no matter how small it seemed. If you are not familiar with the story here is what happened. The Israelites next town to conquer was a small town called Ai. Since there were only a few people who lived there, this should have been an easy victory. After all they had just conquered the mighty city of Jericho. Here is what happened:
What just happened here? The answer is simple. Just like there is another side of your obedience, there is also another side of your disobedience. In this instance, Achan’s act of disobedience cost the Israelites not only a humiliating defeat, but people died because of Achan’s sin. Also if you notice, God didn’t say Achan was unfaithful, he said the Israelites were unfaithful. One man’s act of disobedience impacted the entire nation. Here was God’s response:
Achan committed an act of disobedience and he saw the result of it. Ultimately, this one act of disobedience cost the lives of men from the Israelite army. It cost Achan his own life and also the lives of his entire family. What a terrible price to pay, but it shows you what is on the other side of disobedience.
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I hope you can see that the decisions and choices you make don’t just affect your life. After all, we don’t live in a vacuum. It doesn’t matter what status you have in life; your decision to obey or not obey will come with consequences. If you obey it will bless you and bless others. If you disobey you not only hurt yourself, but you have the potential to bring others down with you. I think Achan is a good reminder of that.
The bottom line is simple, always choose to obey. Your choices matter, so choose wisely. This will not always be easy. In Achan’s story he saw the beauty of the treasure and his heart got covetous, leading to his act of disobedience. There will be things that will try to move you off your stance of obedience. It could be distraction. It could be delay and the thought of putting it off. It could be anything. Regardless of what it is, just remember there is another side to your obedience, and choosing not to obey may be hurting you and someone else.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Jared Murray
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.