"A missionary translator was endeavoring to find a word for "obedience " in the native language. This was a virtue seldom practiced among the people into whose language he wanted to translate the New Testament. As he returned home from the village one day, he whistled for his dog and it came running at full speed. An old native, seeing this, said admiringly in the native tongue, "Your dog is all ear." Immediately the missionary knew he had his word for obedience.' (-Paul Lee Tan)
The quality of steadfast obedience is a precious and rare commodity these days. Those in the medical profession have complained that, next to the patient who does not pay his bill, the most annoying patient is the one who refuses to follow orders. In a survey taken of doctors, they have estimated that between 16 to 90% of all patients leave half-empty pill bottles, cheat on diets, continue to smoke, or never return for checkups despite careful prescriptions and cautious advice.
The writer of Psalm 119 had this to say about obedience:(vs.1-6) Blessed are they whose way's are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways . You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
This text has some tall orders: "precepts that are to be fully obeyed", "steadfastness in obeying your decrees". Could it be that God really expects that level of obedience from his children? From Old Testament history we discover that Israel made costly mistakes every time they assumed that they could trifle with God's laws.
While we may be human and subject to error, I believe that we often hide behind our humanity as an excuse for callously disregarding God's precepts altogether. Like the wayward patients mentioned above, we presume to know more than the experts we pay to take care of us and advise us on our physical health. Spiritually, we presume to "interpret" God's laws to suit our predispositions, then we wonder why we are put to shame as we consider God's precepts.
When God's laws seem impractical in relation to your life style, the problem does not lie in the laws, but in your attitude towards obeying them. In most cases God's precepts have not been tried and found wanting, they have been found disagreeable to our undisciplined ways and not tried at all.
Like the missionary's dog, we need to learn to come-a-'runnin full tilt when we hear the master's whistle. We are promised to be blessed when we develop a heart to keep the Lord's statutes and seek him with all our heart. May we then seek to develop a STEADFAST OBEDIENCE so we can be "all ear" when the master calls.
(This article from the Castle Hills Christian Church "Communicator" which I wrote, is included in a new Devotional book I am writing and will be out soon.)