This post is all about obedience in the Bible
Let’s be honest…many people view obedience in the Bible as a chore.😓
But the truth is, obedience is a fundamental virtue in the Bible, with many Scriptures encouraging followers to submit to the will of God.
The Bible teaches that obedience is necessary for us to receive God’s blessings and protection. It also shows us how disobedience can lead to negative consequences.
Throughout the Bible, we see stories of people who obeyed God and were rewarded, as well as those who disobeyed Him and faced punishment. From Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden to Jesus’ teachings on loving your neighbor, obedience plays a major role in Scripture.
In this article, you’ll learn why obedience is so important in the Bible and explore some key texts about it.
Ready? Let’s go!
Obedience via God’s divine instruction (my powerful🔥 testimony!😭)
It is only through obedience that we can truly honor and serve God.
This past week, I heard a still small voice inside me telling me to provide someone with Kenyan Shillings 7000. I discerned that God was calling on me, and without hesitation, I followed the instruction and transferred the money to the lady.
Keep in mind that this lady hadn’t asked anyone for any monetary assistance. So naturally, I knew it sounded strange when I messaged her asking for her contact information. I told her God asked me to send that money, and I didn’t want to be disobedient.
Little did I know that this act of obedience would lead to something truly remarkable. After returning from the mission field, the lady informed me that my monetary gift had answered her prayer request; she had been planning on the mission trip with some friends to assist underprivileged children and widows but had been struggling to obtain the necessary funds.
The monetary gift enabled her to attend, and she was able to minister to 70 widows and 70 underprivileged kids.
Here’s our exact text conversation dated 05/29/2023…
Cindy*: “Praise God, my sister. May the Lord God Almighty reward you richly. Thank you for being instrumental in supporting me in fueling my car to and fro to Kericho for the conference. The Lord Jesus did visit us. We reached over 70 physically challenged children and 70 widows with food and clothing. We had a target of 30 widows but got an overflow of 40 extra widows. Many souls were healed and restored. Thank you so much, dear. I felt like sharing it with you. Your message came as a confirmation. I had made a prayer and asked God to confirm my going with a financial miracle of fuel. And He did it through you. God bless you and your entire family! Thank you for obeying God. May the Lord regard your sacrifices and remember you.”
Heather Chesiyna (Me): “Wow, I’m in awe of how the Lord speaks and works through the Body of Christ. I praise the Lord for choosing me to work through you for His glory’s sake. I praise Him so much, and I’m humbled. Thank you so much for sharing this testimony, woman of God! Blessings”
Takeaways from my obedience testimony…
This experience reinforced the power of obedience and how God can use our small acts of kindness for something that is much bigger than we ever could have imagined. By listening and obeying His voice, I had unknowingly provided the exact amount needed for a mission trip that would change many lives!
So imagine that The Almighty God has a roster or a sign-up sheet that says, “Members of the Ekklesia needed to partner to assist in X.Y.Z.”….Will you sign up? Will you respond to the call?
Well, I’ve told God that I will always be available to sign up whenever a need aligns with His purpose and will over my life!
2 Chronicles 16:9, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.“
P.S. Kericho is an actual place in Kenya…sounds like Jericho, but it is Kericho.
P.P.S. I changed the name* of the actual person for privacy concerns.
Meaning of obedience
Glory to God for the following awe-filled revelation…buckle up ya’ll!
The word ‘obedience’ means different things to different people. It takes on a whole new meaning when examined from the perspective of Hebrew culture.
In Hebrew, the word for obedience is shama, which carries the connotation of hearing and obeying.
Please let’s pause and read that again…shama (obedience) carries the connotation of hearing and obeying. I would’ve triple-underlined that if I was able to!
So what exactly does this mean?
Well…Shama involves understanding what is being said or commanded and then willingly following through with that command. So we can deduce an element of discernment is needed!
This idea of willful obedience is further emphasized in Christian teachings, where Jesus teaches his followers to obey him voluntarily rather than out of fear or obligation. Thus, shama encompasses not only an individual’s willingness to follow a directive but also his/her understanding and comprehension of the directive itself.
In contrast to this, English dictionaries define obedience as “a willingness to comply with the orders or wishes of someone in authority.” This definition conveys a sense of submission and implies that obedience is only achieved through fear or coercion.
However, other English dictionaries also note that obedience can also come from a sense of respect, which broadens the scope of what it means to be obedient beyond simply following orders.
Ultimately, both meanings of obedience—the Hebrew shama and the English dictionary definition—highlight one key element: an individual’s personal choice to obey. This truth has been echoed throughout Christian scripture, as Jesus admonished his followers to follow him out of love rather than compulsion (John 14:15).
By understanding and embodying this idea in our lives, we can display true submission and gain a deeper understanding of our faith.
Difference between honor and obedience in the Bible
The discussion of honor vs. obedience is important, especially from the perspective of Christians.
A common mistake made by many people, even Christians, is to think that obeying and honoring are interchangeable concepts.
That is simply not true; they are two separate actions that have different meanings and implications.
Obeying means doing as you’re told without questioning it or thinking about it. Per my dictionary definition, it implies compliance following a command or instruction- sometimes without any moral consideration involved.
In contrast, honoring involves respect and love for someone else’s opinion or authority in life.
Honoring does not mean blindly following orders – instead, it comes with understanding why something should be done, being respectful of the source of those orders, and recognizing the impact that the action will have.
Obedience to God in the Bible
From the Christian perspective, obeying and honoring God above all else is important. We are called to be humble in our obedience and respectful and loving in our honoring of Him. This is a foundational piece of Christianity – if we do not obey God, then we cannot claim to be His followers.
At the same time, being obedient to God means that we shouldn’t blindly follow what our parents or elders say. Yes, we are called to honor our parents and the role they play in our lives… However, if they tell us to do something that goes against what God has commanded us, we must always remember to first and foremost honor and obey God!
Let me expound on that…
It is never appropriate for us to disobey God in an attempt to honor our parents. If they (our parents) ask us to go against God’s orders, we must explain why we cannot do as they ask. i.e. if they ask you to submit to ancestral idol worship, you simply can’t if you are in true obedience to God! Even if your parents regard this as disobedience.
Friends, it is essential that Christians understand the distinction between honoring and obeying. While honor is necessary, so too is obedience – and sometimes this means taking a stand against what our parents, leaders or elders ask us to do if it goes against what God commanded us. We must always obey His will first and foremost, no matter the cost.
P.S. My post titled, “Honor is the Currency of Heaven | Honor in the Bible,” is one to read after this one!
Examples & stories of obedience in the Bible
The Bible is filled with inspirational examples of obedience and faith. They show us that faith and trust in God’s plan can take us places we could never have imagined – even if it means giving something up or going against what is expected.
We can draw strength from these stories to make difficult decisions, have courage when facing unknowns, and stay true to God’s purpose for our lives with humility and grace.
The below 3 stories are just a few of the many examples of obedience and faith in the Bible.
As we continue to explore these stories, let us remember that God invites us to be obedient, too, and will always give us the strength and courage to do so.
First, let’s look at Abraham’s story in Genesis 12. Here, God promised Abraham that he would be given many descendants if he left his homeland and went where God told him.
Despite not knowing what awaited him or having any guarantee of success, Abraham listened to God and obeyed His command.
This story serves as an example of total trust in the Lord’s plan. Abraham was willing to give up what he knew for the unknown – a decision that takes great faith and courage.
Another story of Abraham’s obedience and faith in the Lord was ultimately demonstrated through his willingness to sacrifice Isaac, as told in Genesis 22.
This was a great test of Abraham’s trust – he loved Isaac but followed God’s command without hesitation.
Next, l want to highlight Mary’s story in Luke 1:26-55.
Here, Mary is visited by Gabriel, who tells her that she will become pregnant and have a child from God himself.
Mary could have easily been overwhelmed or scared by this request – especially considering that it would cause her much hardship and judgment from people.
But instead, she declared, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Through such an act of faith, Mary obeyed the Lord’s will and became an example for us today.
Another example is our Lord and Savior Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane! This is truly a powerful example of obedience and self-sacrifice.
In Luke 22:42, Jesus prayed to God to take away the burden of His destiny – but ultimately accepted His Father’s will for Him.
John 8:29 and John 4:24 tell us that Jesus did not sin or turn away from his mission, despite knowing what it would cost Him. This story shows us the importance of obedience, even when it means sacrificing our desires.
Similarly, Mark 10:45 tells us that Jesus was willing to give Himself up for others – an incredible act of humility and love, as recorded in Philippians 2:5-8.
P.S. In my blog post on Spirit of Excellence, I highlight the stories of Daniel as well as Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. They too were obedient to God and this almost cost them their lives!
Stories on disobedience in the Bible
Jonah is often cited as an example of someone who disobeyed God’s will.
In this story, God sends Jonah to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance, and Jonah disobeys by fleeing instead on a boat headed for Tarshish. After being thrown overboard and swallowed by a giant fish, he eventually goes to Nineveh as commanded and successfully delivers his message.
The lesson from Jonah’s story is that disobedience will never bring success or fulfillment; ultimately, it leads to more suffering.
Here are some other key takeaways on Jonah’s story:
- Disobedience leads to consequences – even if we escape immediate punishment, our choices can still have far-reaching implications that can lead us down a difficult path.
- Obeying God is the best way to find true peace – though it may not always be easy, following God’s commands will lead to a life of joy and purpose.
- We must be aware of our own motivations – as in Jonah’s case, disobedience sometimes stems from trying to fulfill our own desires instead of what God has asked us to do.
- Showing mercy can lead to redemption – even after his disobedience, God gave Jonah another chance to fulfill His mission. This shows the importance of being merciful and forgiving to others.
So quick segue… When God tells me to do something, I always have this image of Jonah being swallowed by a whale. I’m always like, “NOT today!” I don’t plan on being swallowed by a figurative whale due to disobedience!
2. Adam & Eve:
This story in the book of Genesis teaches us about the consequences of disobeying God’s commands.
After eating from the forbidden tree, Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden of Eden – a punishment meant to serve as an example for future generations that disobedience has serious repercussions.
3. Saul & Samuel:
In this story found in 1 Samuel 15, King Saul is asked by God to destroy his enemies completely; instead, he only partially follows through with God’s instructions.
As a result, he loses his chance to be king and disgraces himself before those around him.
4. Nadab & Abihu:
This story found in Leviticus 10 tells the tale of two priests who God commanded to offer up holy incense but instead offered burnt offerings of their own design.
As punishment, they are struck down by fire from God and die for their disobedience.
Reasons and Benefits of Obedience
Obedience to God is one of the most important aspects of a Christian’s life.
In the Bible, many verses highlight why obedience to God is so critical for Christians.
Here are seven reasons why obedience to God is important:
1. Obedience is a form of worship:
According to Romans 12:1, true worship involves offering our bodies as living sacrifices, which includes submitting ourselves in obedience to God’s will.
When we obey Him, we show Him our love and appreciation for all He has done for us.
2. God rewards obedience:
Genesis 22:18 tells us that when we follow His commands, He will reward us with blessings.
This can be seen throughout Scripture, as God blesses those who remain faithful to Him.
3. Disobedience leads to sin and death (and the reverse is true):
Romans 5:19 tells us that through one man’s disobedience, sin entered the world; death came upon all people.
We must be careful to obey God so we will not fall into temptation and commit sinful acts.
4. Obedience demonstrates faith:
Hebrews 11:8 states that Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out, even though he did not know where he was going.
His obedience demonstrated his faith in God’s promises and plans for him.
5. Obeying God shows love for others:
The greatest commandment is to love God and our neighbor.
Obeying God shows that we genuinely care about others and strive to live lives that reflect His will for us.
6. Obedience keeps us from danger:
Proverbs 4:14-15 tells us to stay away from evil paths so we can keep our life on the right track.
Obeying God protects us from harm so we can continue living in faithfulness and safety.
7. Obedience is better than sacrifice
In 1 Samuel 15:22, God states that obedience is better than sacrifice.
The context of this verse is in regards to King Saul’s disobedience. As a result of this, his offerings were unacceptable in the eyes of God because he had not followed through with keeping his word.
Obedience is more important that any offering or sacrifice we could ever give, as it shows our commitment to following God’s will for us. This means that when we submit ourselves to Him, He smiles down on us with approval and delight.
8. Obedience to God is a sure path to blessings and favor:
The Bible states that when we obey the Lord, He will bless us with peace, joy, and abundance (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
It also promises that those who meditate and obey everything in it will be prosperous and successful (Joshua 1:8).
9. Strengthened spiritual walk:
Through obedience, our spiritual walk with God is strengthened. We can experience His presence through prayer and meditation, spending quality time in His Word each day.
Another plus is that we can better understand what pleases Him and learn to discern between good and bad (Hebrews 5:14).
Lastly, we can also discover our purpose, gifts, and talents that will lead us to a path of true fulfillment.
10. Obedience brings unity among believers:
Following God’s commands with humility creates an atmosphere of peace and harmony even when there are different views on topics (Ephesians 4:2-3).
The result is beautiful relationships that honor God along with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
On the flip side, disobedience always leads to chaos and disunity- be it from historical and Biblical stories to modern day/current events.
11. Personal growth:
As we consistently surrender our lives to Him, He gives us strength to grow personally as well as within the body of Christ. Our faith deepens, and our relationship with Him grows.
This priceless blessing brings joy, peace, and contentment to each day.
12. Obedience honors God!
Ultimately, obedience honors God as it shows our trust in Him.
We have nothing to fear when we obey because He will always lead us along the path of life – and His grace will carry us through.
Even if His commands seem difficult at times, we can remember the promises of blessing He has placed on them (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
Obedience Bible verses to meditate on
Here are eight additional bible verses that discuss obedience (be sure to also read the ones I mentioned in the previous section):
Exodus 19:5: “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples…”
Deuteronomy 11:1: “You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.”
2 Corinthians 10:5: “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ….”
John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Romans 6:12–14: “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
Proverbs 3:1–2: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.”
1 Peter 1:14–15: “As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct since it is written, ‘You shall be holy for I am holy.'”
And that’s it, folks, obedience in the Bible
I hope this post highlights that obedience to God is essential to a Christian’s life.❤️
Here are some takeaways:
- Obedience brings blessings and rewards from God, while disobedience leads to sin and death.
- We must follow God’s commands faithfully and with humble hearts to bring glory to Him and live lives filled with joy and peace.
- The Bible reminds us time and again that when we obey the Lord, He will be faithful to bless us in ways beyond what we can imagine.
My prayer is that you’ll give your heart to Jesus- fully surrendered. An honest offering…to serve God & those in need (according to His will)🙌🏽!
P.S. I was belting out this song in my car this morning!