“Then Balaam confessed to the angel of the LORD, ‘I have sinned. I didn’t realize you were standing in the road to block my way. I will return home if you are against my going.'” Numbers 22:34
A donkey that talks…sounds like a fairy tale and like all well-written fairy tales, is full of wisdom. After I read today’s verses I thought about Balaam and his donkey, the donkey spoke so well that Balaam didn’t even notice that it was his donkey or was he that oblivious to the message that was being delivered? The response of the donkey to me is the key, without any excuse or wavering the donkey did what God required of him. He didn’t practice, he didn’t train for it, there was no fore-thought, all he had was a willingness to be of service…to be obedient. In a children’s Bible study there is a paragraph that reads, “How would we reach to this task if God had asked us to speak to Balaam. Would we try and brush up on our Hebrew? Would it even occur to us that God could speak through us perfectly without training or practice, and yet that is what happened in the case of the donkey.” The donkey was available and God used him where he was and how he was. This is a lesson in obedience…to be able to trust God in this same way and be obedient with no matter what He asks of us.
Obedience is summed up in Deuteronomy 11:26-28, “Obey and you will be blessed. Disobey and you will be cursed.” The Greek word for obey means to trust. According to Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary a succinct definition of biblical obedience is “to hear God’s Word and act accordingly.” Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary says, “True ‘hearing’ or obedience, involves the physical hearing that inspires the hearer, and a belief or trust that in turn motivates the hearer to act in accordance with the speaker’s desires.” So, to state it simply, Biblical obedience means to hear, trust, submit and surrender to God and obey His Word. I just reread that sentence and I thought of how often I have “heard” but chose not to listen…these were the times that my disobedience led me down roads of pain and hurt.
We know that Jesus does call us to obedience, He is the perfect model. In the Bible we can reflect on what obedience is:
- Obedience is an act of worship – “True Christian obedience flows from a heart of gratitude for the grace we have received from the Lord.”
- God rewards obedience – “Jesus replied, ‘But even more blessed are all who hear the Word of God and put it into practice.'” Luke 11:28
- Obedience to God proves our love – “And this love, that we walk according to His commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” 2 John 6
- Obedience to God demonstrates our faith – “And we can be sure that we know Him if we obey His commandments. If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth…” 1 John 2:3-4
- Disobedience leads to sin and death – Jesus’ perfect obedience restores our fellowship with God, for everyone who believes in Him.
- Through obedience we experience the blessings of Holy Living – As we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from within, we grow in holiness. “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1
2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “Let us work toward complete holiness.” I feel better when I read this knowing that obedience is not learned overnight; it is a lifelong process that we pursue by making it a daily goal. Maybe, just maybe that is where I falter…only Jesus Christ is perfect and only He can walk in sinless obedience…I must wake up every morning and be conscious about walking in obedience.