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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

More than Lip Service

Remember when you got in trouble as a child? Your parent said something like, “Do you remember what I told you? Why didn’t you do it?”

Our childish minds went into overdrive to answer the question with anything that we thought would get us out of trouble. But it usually only made matters worse.

When obedience is the standard, no excuse works.

That’s what Jesus wanted those gathered on the hillside who were listening to his teaching about the blessed life. He looked into the eyes of people who had serious doubts about what they would do with his teaching when they went back home. That’s when Jesus asked a question that we must also answer.

When the question stares us down, we know how futile and unnecessary anything but obedience to Jesus becomes. Yet, to say we always choose obedience or that we live in a consistent rhythm of obedience is an overstatement.

Why? Is it an authority issue? We don’t want anything or anyone to lord over us?

But when I study the meaning of Lord, I think we’ve missed an important point. While it is a title of honor and authority, it is also a title that carries with it the power to protect. The lord of the household in Bible days had the responsibility to care for everything and everyone in his house. A lord of the castle in medieval times could amass an army at will to fend off an enemy. It wasn’t just about authority and power; the lord had the provisions to protect.

What if we read Jesus’ question this way . . .

Do you see the futility of naming Jesus our Lord but tying his hands with our disobedience?

We excuse bad attitudes, harsh words, twisted values, and misplaced priorities; but are quick to pray for direction, protection or rescue when trouble threatens. It’s not that Jesus withholds something to punish us for disobedience; it’s that our disobedience places us where His provision can’t serve as an answer.

It’s the wayward sheep issue. We go our own way and wonder why we end up confused or lost.

We need to come to Jesus as the Lord who will always show us a better way to respond, to love, to endure, to work, to play, to choose. If He is the Lord who loves us with unfailing love and has unlimited resources to guide us, provide for us, and secure us; why would we not do what he says?

Today is a good day to change the question Jesus asked and make it our life affirmation:

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