“Don’t touch that!” “Be careful!” “Don’t climb up there.” “Don’t eat that plant!” “Stay where I can see you.” “Don’t bite her!”  “Be kind.”

Isn’t it interesting how parents universally have expectations for their children? Even before they can express themselves and begin to crawl rules and guidelines are set in place to ensure their safety. If those rules are obeyed life is much simpler—for everybody!

No good parent would leave his two year old to run on the road, or let him touch a hot stove. And we would not think much of a parent who didn’t love and care enough to protect and keep their children safe and happy.disciplining-children

I read the following on Facebook some days ago.

“Religion says you need to straighten up and serve their church and pay tithes to be saved. God says you need to accept his free gift of salvation and told his church to SERVE YOU until you accept. I’m sorry that the church isn’t fully obedient and for some reason they expect you to be, but just ignore them, don’t believe the lie you need to serve them and obey their rules to be saved. Just accept the free gift.”

I didn’t feel inclined to comment on my young friend’s post that day. Perhaps I was too tempted to pick it totally apart. However my thoughts keep returning to his sentiments. I do find it interesting that he included a phrase to ponder– “for some reason they expect you to be (obedient)”.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” Doctrines and Covenants 130:20-21

So many people’s hackles go up when confronted by rules. Especially the laws and commandments taught as part of religion. It truly is a testing ground for some. My way? Or God’s way?

Perhaps it’s our pride or rebellion. Perhaps it’s the belief that we are powerful and able to rule our own world. We want to change the rules to make them comfy and palatable-to match our desires. Maybe in the same way that children think they know better than their elders and fight to be independent, we fight being obedient to Heavenly Father’s plan.

“Today we find ourselves in …a war of thoughts, words and deeds. It is a war with sin, and more than ever we need to be reminded of the commandments. Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children.” L. Tom Perry

Because I had never considered them closely in light of today’s practices, I was fascinated with a portion of a General Conference talk, “Obedience to Law is Liberty” given by Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles regarding the Ten Commandments. He said:

“One way to measure ourselves and compare us to previous generations is by one of the oldest standards known to man—the Ten Commandments. For much of the civilized world, particularly the Judeo-Christian world, the Ten Commandments have been the most accepted and enduring delineation between good and evil.

In my judgement, four of the Ten Commandments are taken as seriously today as ever. As a culture we disdain and condemn murder, stealing, and lying, and we still believe in the responsibility of children to their parents.

But as a larger society we routinely dismiss the other six commandments:

–  If worldly priorities are any indication, we certainly have “other gods” we put before the true God.

–  We make idols of celebrities, of lifestyles, of wealth, and yes, sometimes of graven images or objects.

–  We use the name of God in all kinds of profane ways, including our exclamations and our swearing.

–  We use the Sabbath day for our biggest games, our most serious recreation, our heaviest shopping, and virtually everything else but worship.

–  We treat sexual relations outside marriage as recreation and entertainment.

–  And coveting has become a far too common way of life. (see Exodus 20:3-17)

…A useful way to think about the commandments is they are loving counsel from a wise, all-knowing Heavenly Father. His goal is our eternal happiness, and His commandments are the road map He has given us to return to Him, which is the only way we will be eternally happy.”

I am grateful to be a member of a church that teaches the importance of obeying all of Heavenly Father’s commandments. For many years I admired the writer of Psalms and marvelled at his expressions of deep praise, love and gratitude for the laws and commandments of God. Psalm 119 comes to mind.

We admire Abraham for his faith and obedience. “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou has obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:18) and other great ancients-Enoch, Noah, Joseph, Moses and many others- because they heard the voice of the Lord and obeyed.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ set us a perfect example of obedience. “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him. John 8:28-29

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:10-11

We parents plan to protect our children from all dangers. And we have desires and aspirations for them to be filled with happiness and well being. Would not a Heavenly Parent even more so  plan for the protection and happiness of His sons and daughters?

“In the universe, too, where God is in command,

there is law—universal, eternal …law—

with certain blessings and immutable penalties.”

It makes us sad to watch a child deliberately shatter a guideline and hurt himself. I wonder how it makes our Father in Heaven feel when we use our agency to completely disregard His guidelines. We miss out on the countless blessings He might have showered upon us.

“The Lord will not force himself upon people; and if they do not believe, they will receive no visitation. If they are content to depend upon their own limited calculations and interpretations, then, of course, the Lord will leave them to their chosen fate. . . . 

“The Almighty is with this people. We shall have all the revelations that we shall need if we will do our duty and keep the commandments of God. If men could just realize that there may be sound even though few ears hear it. There are revelations even though most minds be materialistic and most hearts impenetrable” The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 454

Over the years, I’ve often wondered why the predicated blessings are not listed with each commandment to answer my ‘whys’. Several times I’ve been enlightened with the reasons for a particular commandment after I have determined to keep it.

It may take years to recognize the promises and blessings attached to Heavenly Father’s commandments but when they are received, they are sweet indeed.

How have you been greatly blessed for keeping one of God’s commandments?

10 Responses to “For Some Reason They Expect You to Be Obedient”

  • Sarah P says:

    It was interesting to look at obedience from this perspective, very insightful. I also enjoyed the quotations from Elder Holland. I think he is right about society’s view on commandments, although even lying is starting to be viewed as acceptable in some circumstances.

    I had this thought after reading your post (kind of paraphrasing you though): We may not understand the reasons behind the things God has asked us to do & not do, just as a small child doesn’t understand why she shouldn’t touch the stove, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t have good reasons!

  • I’ve been pondering this post over the weekend…

    I can appreciate the sentiment of a post like this – yet it never seems to address the actual issue.

    When I read the comment of this young person what I hear is:
    *you are asking me to follow rules – you don’t follow your own rules
    *why is the focus on rules when we are saved by grace

    I think he deserves an answer. Just because someone has less experience doesn’t mean their experience is invalid or not true.
    Perhaps he is in a situation where his institutional church is looking for everyone to follow rules that they themselves are not willing to follow. If that was the case, someone should be validating his feelings so that he can be encouraged to continue challenging wrong behavior.

    I also thought about grace, being saved by grace and what that means. Why is it that we so easily use the word yet essentially reject it’s very essence?

    I thought about my love for my children – the closest love I’m sure I’ll ever experience in human form on this earth with another person. My deep desire to keep them safe, for them to grow up and use their talents in positive ways. That I do want them to follow guidelines and boundaries – which I think will allow them to live a happier, safer and more fulfilling life.
    I also tried to think of any action, words or decisions they could make that would make me stop loving them or stop wanting to be in connection with them.
    Some decisions would be challenging to accept, would likely make me feel angry or disappointed….even heart broken. But I couldn’t think of anything that would stop me from loving them.
    God can only want so much more for me. That’s grace. I don’t know that our human mind can really comprehend how powerful it is.

    So, I agree. It is frustrating when instead of learning more about this love. Instead of understanding how we can be vessels of this love. Instead of believing that living in this love and sharing it – being light, there is no room for darkness. And that even in the presence of darkness – just a seed of this love will be enough to light the world. Instead of all of our focus being on these lessons, guilt and judgement spew from the pulpit.
    AND, if we truly accept this gift. If we are truly in relationship with God – our desire will only be to live a life that reflects a relationship with him. We will be open to the teaching he has for us as individuals and the ways he challenges us to be better and grow deeper within him.
    Those opportunities are only available to us because we are saved – not to be saved.
    My point here being that we will follow rules and abide in his grace because of the relationship – not because we are reminded at the pulpit, and everyone should be making those choices based on their personal relationship with God.

    I understand where this young person is coming from…and I have to say I agree. Free is free. Love is love.
    If we really believed in God’s love and his gift of grace, there would never need to be another sermon or lesson in tithing, church attendance, feeding the poor or anything else.
    Every sermon like this is essentially spitting in Jesus’ face for his sacrifice. It’s calling him a liar when he said that the only law we needed to follow was “Love God with all your heart mind and soul”….it’s saying we don’t believe in grace and have yet to accept it as God’s gift to us….and that is a sad, sad thing.

  • Lil Shepherd says:

    Hi Lily,
    What I love about the 10 Commandments, as well as all situations where obedience is asked/required, is ALL IS EQUAL or THE SAME is required by all. When my children were young and I was teaching them to choose to be obedient, I loved to tell them THESE ARE NOT MY RULES. Rather they were Heavenly Father’s rules, and that I had to choose to follow them too if I wanted to live with Him again.

    Yes it is true, obedience is required to obtain eternal life with our Father in Heaven. For some reason adults are great at giving rules to their children but slow at following them. The world would be a much better place if adults would follow the rules of Heavenly Father, he expects us to follow them. But has also given us our agency, so we can choose for ourselves which path we will take.

    I’m so grateful for the spirit inside of me that loves the Lord and has a desire to return to Him. So grateful families can be forever, when we choose to be obedient.

  • Bryant Barber says:

    You never know who is going to read a blog, do you? So much discussion occurs because of the word “grace.” I recently heard the story of a young, non-christian, person who grew up in Korea. Whenever this person met a christian, a question was asked, “There are two people. One is a bad person, but a christian, and the other person is nice, but not a christian. Which one will go to heaven and which one will go to hell? The answer that was always given was, “The bad person will go to heaven because he is a christian.”
    That kind of answer makes one think that all we have to do is make a declaration and our mission is accomplished. We know that is not true, so let’s think of it in a different way. Our Savior’s arrangement with us is like a parent providing music lessons for his/her child. Parent pays the piano teacher. The debt is paid in full, so parent can turn to child and ask for something; “practice.”
    Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher, or repay parent for paying the piano teacher? No! Practice is how the child shows appreciation for parent’s wonderful gift. It is how the child takes advantage of the opportunity to live at a higher level. Parent’s joy is found in seeing the child’s improvement; in seeing the gift used; not in getting repaid. In the same way, because Jesus has paid justice, which demands immediate perfection, or else; He can turn to us and say, “follow me,” “keep my commandments.” He doesn’t ask us to repent in order to repay Him for paying our debt to justice. Repentance, and following our Heavenly Parent’s instructions initiates a developmental process that will help us to walk along that straight and narrow path that will lead us back into His
    presence. He wants to see us change, and improve. I think that is why He issued the injuction in Mathew 5:48 – “Be ye therefore perfect,” which means ‘fully developed, complete, finished.’ It seems to me that our Savior wanted us to become like Him. Just as a baby is potentially an adult, in Psalms 82:6 we read, “I have said, ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” After all, we were created in His image, weren’t we?

  • ka says:

    I loved your blog message and felt inclined to write my thoughts about your comments in reference to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Being our Savior, he was obedient to his Father’s will and suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. He sacrificed all things, even his own life, to atone for our sins. Talk about being obedient. He was the ultimate example of this principle. He did ALL that he was asked by the Father. (He didn’t say, I am saved by my Father’s grace, he performed, worked at it, did what he was to do.) We, too, must follow his example and be obedient to the Father’s will. Being less perfect than Jesus we will make mistakes and thus his atonement allows us to repent, to keep on trying and striving to do our best at being obedient. We must work at it everyday. Because we are loved by our Father in Heaven the day will come when he will say….”You have been obedient, you have sacrificed for my sake, you have tried and repented and still have come short, but have done your part to be the best you can while in this earthly existence.” And because of his love and the grace of God Jesus Christ will make up the difference and through his mercy, justice will be overcome and we will be saved.

    Obedience is required, sacrifice is required, repentance is required if we accept Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer. We must do our part just as he did. It isn’t by grace alone that we are saved….we must do our part just as Jesus did. He set the example for us…the ultimate example. He did it for us….why, ….because he loves us and wants all of us to return back to the presence of God.

    God can direct our lives for good, for happiness, for eternal joy, if we will just read and follow his prophets in the scriptures. Obedience brings forth the blessings of heaven. The Lord will always bless our lives as we obey his commandments. I know this to be true.

  • Let me clarify that I never said that we were to be obedient. What I said is that we are saved by grace and I do believe that for those who declare Jesus to be their Lord and Savior – they are saved by grace alone. (Romans 11:6)

    What I did say is that because of the relationship we will chose to be obedient. Because of the relationship we will embrace the ways that God asks us to sacrifice and do good works in His name.
    (Jn 15:10-12)

    Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was obedience and “good works”. He was a living sacrifice. Hence the reason the criminal to his right was able to be saved – in that moment they were still under old covenant law. This was a living example of someone being saved by works and sacrifice because Grace was yet to be delivered.

    I am also aware that it is made clear that when we as believers turn our back on God, live in disobedience, that there will be severe consequences for such behavior. But that again goes back to turning our back on his gift and being out of relationship with him. Just as it would be more hurtful for your child to do wrong by you than a stranger.

    We are not saved by our feeble human works – we are saved by our relationship with God – which we only have because of Jesus’ sacrifice and our union with the Holy Spirit.

    In terms of the piano lesson example:
    Parent pays lessons: “The debt is paid”
    Child goes to lessons: “The gift is accepted”
    Child filled with gratitude for the gift and sacrifice – practices: “obedience and good works”
    Proud parent provides opportunity for growth and learning: “blessings”

    Even in this example – it comes back to relationship. The parent needs to have a love deep enough to sacrifice their time and money and the child needs to have an awareness of that sacrifice and make decisions accordingly – if they don’t (they turn their back on the gift) it will be withdrawn and that time and money will be placed where it is valued and used for good.

    God is not difficult or a mystery. God is pretty simple. We like to make a mess of things that are very simple. It’s likely why the young believers – pure in spirit, still close to God in their hearts. Being naive enough to actually just believe the scripture and not put their human thoughts behind it – questioning those “in authority”, feel disillusioned by the leaders of the church, that are desperately trying to follow God – but are faced with such opposition.
    They are dismissed long enough that many lose the stamina to continue questioning, standing up for scripture and either leave or are asked to leave their communities.

    I find it hard to believe that God would ever want us to dismiss any of his children – especially the children. We thrive on human power. We thrive in the judgements of our beliefs and those of our institutional churches. We thrive on the belief of our human obedience.
    For some reason, I don’t think that’s God’s definition of obedience.

    • Kathy says:

      I love this post.

      Shanta, I can feel your sincerity and conviction on this topic. I am not the most eloquent writer but I will attempt to share my thoughts. My own beliefs are that we are completely saved by Grace, and that most of us don’t allow ourselves to accept that and feel the joy and relief of it. Most of us believe in Christ, but forget to BELIEVE Christ when he said that through His Grace we are saved (among many other wonderful words of instruction). Through study, I have found that there are ways that we can show our Father in Heaven that we not only are grateful for the sacrifice of his son, but that we are willing to give up all…sacrifice all…to show him that. We don’t have to do that, like a Buddhist Monk, but we have to be WILLING to do it. I liked your example in an earlier response, “That I do want them to follow guidelines and boundaries – which I think will allow them to live a happier, safer and more fulfilling life.” I like it because that is how I feel Heavenly Father wants it to be for us. He does have guidelines and boundaries, in other words, rules. We can accept them or reject them. If we CHOOSE to reject them, we are still saved by Grace. We are still an eternal being, living an Eternal Life. We just may not get the same reward as someone who did follow the rules. Our “hell” will be the knowledge that we rejected what could have been. (I don’t believe in the typical “Hell” of fire and brimstone, I believe that “Hell” will be a constant remembering of our sins throughout eternity.)

      I hope I expressed myself with kindness and love. Charity, the pure love of Christ, is something I aspire to to show at all times.

  • ugh – I meant to say:
    “Let me clarify that I never said that we were NOT to be obedient.

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