“Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” John 8:47
As a mother of seven children, I have learned that listening and listening gladly are two vastly different things.
Whether I’ve instructed my teen to do the dishes or my five-year-old to go to bed without tears, my children rarely delight in my words. Although they have never said it, I am fully aware that my instructions are a hindrance to their ability to do what they feel is best. As a child, I found myself in the same predicament. I remember how irritated I would be when my mother asked me to do something or told me “no” when I asked to do what “everyone else was doing.” While she did her best to guide me, rebellion remained my natural tendency. There were very few times I gladly listened. So, these days, as I deal with my own children who aren’t enthusiastic when I give direction, I am reminded that I too struggled with this. And if I’m honest, when it comes to my Father in heaven and His instruction, I don’t always delight in His commands, as I should.
I still find myself in this battle of knowing what the Lord is saying but not always wanting to do it. Things like gossip, vanity, jealousy, comparison, and ungodly thoughts creep in and my actions do not always reflect the God that I serve. Yet, this battle is not new to Christians. The Apostle Paul says it like this in Romans.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do” Romans 7:15
The truth is, it would be easy for us to stop there and say, “Well, Paul and other Christians deal with this, so this isn’t a big deal.” Yet, in John 8:47, Jesus speaks to the crowds when He says, “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly.”
They don’t listen begrudgingly.
They don’t listen when they feel like it.
They don’t listen to some things but ignore the other things.
They listen with eagerness and joy, even when they don’t understand, and they “feel” like the instruction is difficult.
In other words, as those who follow Christ, we should have a deep longing to listen to God and listen well. Those who belong to the Lord understand that He is a good father. His instructions are meant to be a guide for good living. Much like the earthly parent who tells their child not to touch the stove or run across the street, God’s instructions are meant to keep us from harm. When He tells us to live a life free from “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these” it is for our benefit (Galatians 5:19-21).
God is not out to ruin our fun or irritate us like I once thought my mother was trying to do. Instead, His desire that you live a life that is abundant, wise, and fruitful. Even more so, all these sinful things will lead us to a path of destruction. In His protection, he gives instructions that bring life and keep us from being ensnared by the enemy’s traps. For this reason, rather than seeing God’s word as a hindrance or an outdated rule book, we can run to His word with delight. For His commands are ones that will guard us and keep us in all things.
There is a great victory in heeding the instructions from the Lord. Remember, He knows ALL things. Let's not allow disobedience to cheat us out of God's best for our lives. When He speaks, let us listen with joy knowing that He has the best plan for us. Today, I pray that we can all embrace God’s word gladly and seek to serve Him in all our ways.
I thank for your patience with me. Help me to love your word and your decrees. I gladly receive your instruction as truth and a light to my path. Show me when I am being rebellious and ungrateful. Help me to remember that your words are for my good. I choose to follow you in all things and honor you above my own desires. You are enough and I trust you. Speak to me Lord, I'm listening. In Jesus name, Amen.
For more on living a life of everyday victory, I invite you to purchase the Victory Walk: A 21 Day Devotional on Amazon today by clicking here. While you await your new book, head over to itunes, Spotify, Youtube or Amazon Music and sing out your victory with my latest single, "God Has Not Forgotten You."
Portions of the above devotional were originally published on iBelieve. To listen to the full "Your Daily Prayer" podcast episode click here.