Faith is closely related to obedience.
As Colossians 2:6 says, “…just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.” (NLT)
Lately, God has been teaching me that being faithful and obedient isn’t just about big trials put in front of us once or twice in our lives. The people in the Bible who marched around Jericho 7 times, mounted an attack against a giant with a slingshot, and built an ark in anticipation of a global flood, were faithful and obedient before those events and afterward.
I’m not talking about a legalistic obedience. When we’re in a right relationship with God, sin in our lives is something that God deals with. When we’re not in a close relationship with Him, avoiding sin becomes a matter of staying inside the lines and minding our steps. Obeying God because you think you ought to, will tend to lead you into legalism because the root of your obedience is fleshly (self-generated). If you miss the mark when you’re trying to be obedient because of legalism, you’ll find yourself drowning in dispare and condemnation.
Obeying God’s command out of faithfulness when you hear from God is part of God’s natural plan for obedience. John 10:27 says, “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (NLT). That kind of obedience is what leads to an abundant life. When we hear from God about a little thing (might be as simple as your conscience) and we follow through, we ultimately feel joy. We hear the echoes of, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
It’s the Little Things
Life isn’t just made up of big trials. Life is minute-by-minute, a precious gift of sixty-second opportunities. God wants to use some of these little opportunities to prepare us for the big things. He uses them to prune us into the people he wants us to be. For example, we don’t teach kids by giving them the SAT. We teach them day by day with small school lessons.
In the end, we don’t need to know what He’s doing with the “little thing” in our life. Lately, God has told me that I need to be diligent in disposing of my used paper towels. I like to shoot baskets when I get done drying my hands in the restroom, but I don’t always make the three pointers. I’m ashamed to say it, but it used to be that sometimes, if my paper towel wad landed among five or six other used paper towels on the floor, I would just keep walking. Until one day, God said, “No, you pick up after yourself. And while you’re at it, you need to pick up those other paper towels too.” Now, that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you’re having a rough day, it’s really hard. I’d talk back to Him, “God, the trash can is full. The cleaning lady gets paid to do this stuff.” And God says, “Be faithful.”
At that point, I realized that this little thing is really important. It’s about putting myself aside, and remembering that it’s important to be faithful in all things, including the little things.