Skillful Living 101—21 Obedience

How many people like the word obedience? Culture—even Christian culture, considers those who are concerned with obedience to be narrow-minded, old fashioned or too religious. Regardless of what we think about obedience—it is a requirement for living skillfully.

Proverbs 21:3 says,

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

God is pleased with a surrendered, tender and obedient heart, far more than with a heart and life that give service (sacrifice) void of love. This is true in all of life; no matter if we are serving God, family, church or our community—a heart based in the love of God can only pour forth love, righteousness, justice, mercy and grace.

Mark 12:33 tells us that loving God with our whole heart is superior over sacrifice,

And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.

What this means is that God is far more concerned with our heart. He’s not into empty rituals, or just going through the motions. He doesn’t want to give us a list of rules to follow so we can be qualified as His. No, He wants relationship—the kind of relationship where we live in obedience—simply because we love Him. Obedience birthed out of love is what keeps us from the empty rituals of Christianity.

Proverbs—the book of skillful living, gives solid advice on how to live in obedience and avoid living a life filled with empty rituals.

Proverbs 21

Verse 2—“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs and tries the hearts.”

  • Commit our way (heart and life) to Lord—obey His directives

Verse 5—“The thoughts of the [steadily] diligent tend only to plenteousness, but everyone who is impatient and hasty hastens only to want.”

  • Obedience to diligence pays off

Verse 9 and 19—“Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” “Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.” (Deep wisdom here for us ladies!)

  • Our relationship with God needs to be the most important or else everything we do will be an empty ritual
  • If Jesus is not enough—women (and men) become unhappy and quarrelsome
  • We must let the Lord be our source of love and joy or we will be contentious

Verse 10—“The soul or life of the wicked craves and seeks evil; his neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.”

  • A blameless person obeys God’s directive to love his neighbor as himself

Verse 13—“Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor will cry out himself and not be heard.”

  • Obedience to God regarding a heart for the needy (both physical and spiritual) is imperative for our own answered prayers

Verse 21—“He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.”

  • Obedience to righteous living results in favor

Verse 29—“Unscrupulous people fake it a lot; honest people are sure of their steps.”

  • Dishonesty is an empty ritual
  • Honesty allows us to be confident

Verse 30—“There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord.”

  • There is none like Him
  • There is no one who can stand against Him and win
  • Obedience to God’s authority is essential

Verse 31—“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the Lord.”

  • Obedience to complete reliance on God brings deliverance

Skillful Living Tool Box

  • Obedience is a requirement for living skillfully
  • Loving God is superior over sacrifice, Mark 12:33
  • God is not into empty rituals, 1 Samuel 15:22
  • Obedience to diligence pays off
  • Our relationship with God needs to be the most important or else everything we do will be an empty ritual
  • If Jesus is not enough—we become contentious
  • Love your neighbor as your self
  • A heart for the needy is imperative for our own answered prayers
  • Dishonesty is an empty ritual
  • Honesty allows us to be confident
  • Obedience to God’s authority is essential
  • Complete reliance on God brings deliverance

Please be encouraged to embrace obedience—for no reason other than love.

Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. 1 Samuel 15:22

Read and apply all of Proverbs 21 and please share with those who need to live skillfully!

Check out the Skillful Living Tool Box (updated) at the top of this page!

 

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