“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15 NIV)
In the middle of all the hustle and bustle of this season, let’s pause and think back to the first Christmas. Have you ever stopped to put yourself in Joseph’s shoes? Here was a guy who found out his fiancé was pregnant, claiming she was visited by an angel and that it was God’s baby. And she wanted him to believe her!
In an instant, Joseph’s whole world was turned upside down. This was not the way his life was supposed to turn out. It just didn’t make any sense.
Do you know the feeling? Maybe your finances suddenly take a turn for the worse, or layoffs are looming at work, or you’ve just received news of a health crisis in your family. How are you going to handle it? What do you do when things in your life don’t make sense?
Joseph made the choice to do what God said to do, and it changed everything. Joseph chose to obey God even though he didn’t understand what was happening.
Today, the word “obey” has a negative connotation. We view obedience as a forced, unwilling decision to do something we don’t want to do because we’re afraid of punishment.
But that’s not the kind of obedience that’s in God’s Word. Obedience in the Bible means this: love + trust + action.
It starts with love, as Jesus said in John 14:15: “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (NIV). Obedience comes from knowing that God loves you and you love him in return.
A lot of people think obedience is about fearing God, but God wants us to see obedience to him as a relationship of love. And out of love comes trust. If you trust what God is saying to you, and you believe that he loves you, then that will lead to action.
You need to have all three, because action without love is just rote religion — and love without action is just mere talk.
Joseph was able to accept what Mary and the angel told him because of his relationship with God. He knew God loved him, and he loved God. He trusted God and made the choice to do what God asked him to do. And because of that, Joseph’s life is still impacting lives today.
Talk About It
Is your relationship with God based on love or fear?
How would you describe your level of trust in God?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.