Recently, I was part of a group discussion and in the course of it, this question was asked?
“What are the most important four letters in the Bible?”
Like me, your first thought probably went right to L-O-V-E. I dare say it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that most, if not all, would come to that same conclusion.
However, the answer given was not L-O-V-E, rather, in their thinking the correct response was O-B-E-Y.
When I heard this my reaction was, “Huh? What”? I didn’t understand at all. Some discussion followed with an attempt at persuading the individual to see love as the most important thing. And, in turn, there was equal effort to turn our thinking away from love being the most important.
Without a doubt, we ought to know and understand that obedience is critical in the life of every believer. But the question is, why obey? Apart from love what is obedience? What value is there in keeping the law without love as the driving force?
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…and now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8:13
Without love: tongues, prophecy, faith, giving to the poor, giving one’s body to be burned…it all fails. That must include obedience. For what is obedience, what is any of it, without love? Love spurs us on! Love compels us to want to obey our Creator, God and King!
The morning after said discussion, I was on my way to work when the Apostle Paul came to mind. Here we have an excellent example of obedience as the primary thing. Paul so zealously obeyed the law that he went to great lengths to persecute Christians. Not until he met the Lord Jesus on the Damacus road was it revealed that he really didn’t love God. He loved the Law.
It wasn’t until his encounter with the One who is L-O-V-E personified, the One who is the reason to O-B-E-Y, that Paul, motivated by LOVE Himself, began to walk in true obedience out of a deep, abiding relationship with the Savior of his soul. Love which cost him his very life!
Stephanie Paul serves as part of the Addiction Recovery Team at America’s Keswick as Director of Women of Character. She has been married for over 30 years to Sesky Paul who is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. They have two grown children.
Her single focus in ministry at Keswick is to image Christ in grace and truth to wounded and hurting women, encouraging them to make Jesus the truest Lover of their soul and the One in whom all hope lies.