By Leonard Lauriault
As a child, I was taught to keep the sink clean, rinsing it out after I used it and never leaving anything in it, if possible, because others shouldn’t have to see my mess or have something unnecessarily in their way when they needed to use it.
Consequently, I’ve tried to teach my children to not put their dirty dishes in the sink. While we’re often given some good reasons why rules are in place, such as, “Because I told you not to do that,” or, “Because I said to,” we also may find other reasons that are equally valid.
That happened recently after I washed a pear for lunch. While drying the pear, it flew out of my hand, across the room, and into the sink, where it rolled over just about every inch. (OK, I was vigorously drying it, much like when we’re trying to wipe dried sticky stuff off a three-year-old’s face using a barely damp cloth.) Anyway, if any glasses had been in that sink, they would’ve been knocked around and broken (it’s probably good the counter was clear as well).
So, there’s reason 10,001 for not leaving dishes in the sink. (I use that number because you may already know of 9,998 reasons I haven’t mentioned.)
When we’re studying God’s word, we’ll likely not understand everything at first, either. While we may be impatient, wanting to know everything right now, God doesn’t expect us to immediately be experts, if ever in this life (2 Peter 1: 5-9; 1 John 2: 28-3: 3). What God does expect is obedience, which is always for our own good (Micah 6: 8; Romans 8: 28; Psalm 84: 11).
My brother expected instant obedience from his children because if they were playing in the street and a car was coming, he wanted them to come out of the street without wasting time with questions. All of us should recognize the wisdom in that! He knew that if they’d obey and come to him, he’d be able to explain why they needed to get out of the street, if they didn’t realize it by seeing the car for themselves.
God operates in the same way. If we’ll obey him based on what we know (sometimes, that’s just because he said to), he’ll eventually help us understand the why’s (Philippians 3: 15, 16; John 6: 45). The prophecy likely quoted by Jesus in John 6: 45 continues with, “and great will be your children’s peace (Isaiah 54: 13). A great benefit of obedience, whether or not we initially understand why, and waiting for God to show us why, is that we’ll have the best kind of peace, the peace of God (Philippians 4: 4-9; Isaiah 26: 3; John 14: 25-27; 16: 33).
When we become obedient to the faith – the gospel – we’re adopted into the true Israel of God receiving his blessings as his people (Acts 6: 7; Galatians 3: 26-4:7; 6: 16). Hebrews 8: 6-13 says that when we enter into the new covenant – the new testament – with God, which was put into effect by Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, we can be taught directly by God (Luke 22: 19, 20; Hebrews 9; 14, 15; 10: 19-22; Romans 2: 28, 29; Colossians 2: 6-12). This doesn’t mean we’ll receive new instructions; rather, we’ll have the ability to begin understanding what God has already said (1 Corinthians 2: 12-16; John 16: 13-15; Acts 2: 38, 39; Romans 8: 9; 2 Timothy 3: 16, 17; 2: 15)
Since we know Jesus is righteous, we’re to be righteous, doing what we know to do as we learn it, whether or not we know why God said to do it. This is our duty in life (Ecclesiastes 12: 13, 14; Deuteronomy 10: 12, 13). If we’ll do our duty, we’ll eventually understand and we’ll be like Jesus. Another great benefit of instant obedience is the righteousness that comes to us by faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 3: 21-24). Faith does not negate obedience; it leads to it in a way that brings about our salvation making us righteous in God’s sight (James 1: 22-25; 2: 14-26). God extends his righteousness to us as soon as we obey and he continues working his righteousness through us as long as we faithfully obey (Romans 6: 16-18, 3-7; Philippians 3: 7-11; 1 John 1: 5-9; Deuteronomy 6: 24, 25).
If anyone doesn’t understand this, just do what God tells you in the New Testament without letting questions get in the way, and God will eventually help you understand the more than 10,001 reasons why it was good for you to obey and come to him (Philippians 3: 15,16; did you read this earlier?).
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ