Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak on Ephesians 4:20-5:20. If you haven’t read the passage in a while, honestly, stop reading this stuff that I’m writing and go spend your time over there. It’s a much better use of time.
If you have read it recently, or just went and read it, you’ll see that it’s a tough passage. God calls us away from a ton of options in life towards something much better. He wants us to move away from protecting our self, maintaining an image, compromising our values and move towards freedom, hope, and joy. The call to leave behind things like deceiving others to avoid conflict, talking poorly about other people to elevate ourselves, being lazy and stealing from those we work for/with, walking away from any hint of sexual immorality, letting go of jokes and humor that is off color at any level are all tough things in our world. But the call to be someone who is forgiving, generous, encouraging, hopeful and free is a call worth thinking about and following.
One of the thoughts I’ve been walking through is why God calls us to lives of purity. So often we put God in a position where He tells us these things because “it’s good for us”, but we mean it in a sense where God is after His own gain, and by putting us down, breaking us apart, it cements His position as God. He does it for our “best”, but He’s a bit cruel about it. I hear it all the time, and I think it all the time. It comes in such thoughts as “I know God loves me, but why does it have to be so difficult?” “Why can’t God make this easier on me?” “Why does God keep pushing for this issue in my life when He knows how tough it is for me?” We begin to believe that God wants us to change, because somehow He benefits or profits from it, and therefore a little pain on our part is just going to have to be the price to get Him what He wants. We believe that He is a little indifferent to our pain.
But we need to stop and consider something. God exists above and beyond us. He was just fine before He created the universe. He will be just fine long after it’s gone. Our obedience/disobedience doesn’t change who He is. His day is not made better when we obey. His attitude doesn’t drop when we disobey. He loves us, but we have no power to change Him. He is perfect and complete without us, regardless of whether we obey Him or not. He doesn’t give us the commands in the Bible for His good. He doesn’t need or want anything from us in order to improve His day.
He only wants things FOR us, not FROM us. His commands don’t profit Him at all, they are merely meant to help us live lives of freedom and hope. His way is the best way. Period. When He calls us away from something, it is only because it’s harmful. When He calls us to something, it is only because it’s good. He doesn’t win or lose based on our obedience or disobedience.
I just think it’s crucial for us to get this as we contemplate our obedience in the tough things in life. If His commands aren’t true, why would He give them? Be brave as you work through the places He is pushing you in. He will see us through, and it’s always worth it.