Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obedience: A Matter of Courage

“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law.” (Josh. 1:7)

Mark it down; it takes good, old-fashioned, bone-hard courage to do what is right. Popular culture may claim that it is courageous to do your own thing; but, on the contrary, your own thing is the easiest thing to do. It’s a default mechanism. There is much in life that is individual and unique to each of us, but the unchanging laws of God do not fall into this category. As time goes by, God’s laws may be less and less in step with society, but that only shows the awkwardness and imbalance of society.

I realize, of course, there are those who thrive on going against the grain, not because they are dedicated to following God’s law but simply dead set on ramming through their own preferences. This isn’t courage, either, since confrontation comes far easier for them than accommodation. With such people, allowing differences on secondary issues will take every bit of courage and grace they can muster.

God, through Moses, gave the nation of Israel a great host of laws with which to govern their lives. In the New Testament, many of these are not laid down, as such, for the Church (though many are). Instead, the rules of conduct given by Jesus and the New Testament writers, though they may not be as extensive, are even more exacting. For instance, according to Matthew 5:27-28, we break the seventh commandment (“Thou shalt not commit adultery”) when we harbor lust within our hearts.

I will say it again: It takes courage to obey the laws of God. And though others may be involved, obedience is not a group activity. If we require a crowd around us to bolster our resolve, we will never know if it is truly obedience or merely convenience.

Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point. — C.S. Lewis

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