Backward Obedience

biblical encouragement by sharon cannavo

If you love me you will keep my commandments.  John 14:15

Many times this verse is read and understood in reverse.  We are so conditioned in this world to think that we must do in order to get. As a result, we misunderstand this verse in this way:

If you keep my commandments, then I (Jesus) know you love Me.

In reality, we cannot possibly do enough of anything to give anything to God, including our assurance of love.  This point was the reason God sent His precious Son to the earth to die for our sins.  Our works would never close the chasm between us and God.  If we could do (in this case, works) in order to get (in this case, God's satisfaction of our love), then Christ’s death was in vain and we have no need for a Savior.  Of course, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we desperately know we need Him to be our Savior!  Therefore, it is our complete reliance on our Savior, and our humble acceptance of Jesus that equips and compells us to respond in joyful gratitude and good works, reflecting redemption, forgiveness, and salvation that is freely given (not earned) to us by Christ’s work on the cross.

So, while it is important to teach our children obedience to the Lord and to daddy and mommy, it is imperative that we are not confused.  Nor do we want to inadvertently confuse and mislead our children into the misconception that a right relationship with Christ can be earned through works.  When we are training the hearts of our children to be obedient to Jesus, we must be very careful not to imply or send the message to our children that their obedience or good works is what they do to prove to God, themselves and those around them that they love Jesus.  This in truth could promote pride...the very sin that could harden their hearts and keep them from a relationship with God. To the contrary, our imperfect attempts to do good works leads us to our humble need for the One who did it perfectly.  Therefore, we must help them understand that when they do something good or make an obedient choice, it came as a result of the fruit of the love of God in them, as we are not able to do good in and of ourselves.  We must promote God-reliance, not self-reliance.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.  Phil 2:13  

This gives us cause to rejoice with our children when they do good, together thanking God for His perfect grace and love in us.  His goodness in us becomes our blessing both for ourselves and for those around us.  When we see our children obey and do good, let’s help them to give glory to God!  Let’s be happy for them as they learn that goodness is a reflection of the love of Christ.  Sometimes….once in a while….it's even fun to celebrate obedience and goodness with an ice cream cone!  Cherish the simple times and moments of celebrating God’s love displayed through your children, and watch how they begin to fall in love with Jesus!


Sharon Cannavo