Abraham’s Obedience

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Why is obedience so easy in concept, yet so frustratingly hard in action? Why must following the Lord’s way be so beneficial, yet take SO much faith to walk? Lately, as I have been trying to follow the commandments given me I have gone back to Abraham’s amazing example of faith and obedience. In Genesis we read of Abraham and Sarah and their desire for a son, despite being, “old and well stricken in age” (Gen 18:11). The Lord blessed them with Isaac, and through Isaac promises to Abraham were preserved (Gen 21). What wonderful joy and love Abraham and Sarah must have had for such a miraculous blessing that Isaac was!

But then the trial of faith came to Abraham. We read in Genesis 22 that God commanded Abraham, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”

What pain! What frustration of spirit and mind that must have caused Abraham, and surely Sarah too! To offer up this son, whom so many blessings were already promised through, and so much potential and love was given to! To be taken away, with a simple command from God! We don’t know the progression of emotions that Abraham experienced. We don’t know the test that he went through to obey that commandment. But the more I have thought about it, the more I have agreed with myself that Abraham must not have wanted to obey. At least not at first. He HAD to have wanted to find a different way, or find some logic or justification behind the reasoning of God. BUT, incomprehensibly, in the end Abraham must have convinced himself that he wanted to sacrifice his son and obey God.

What is obedience if you regrettably, grudgingly follow the commandment?

What scripture says that if you obey a commandment grudgingly then the commandment counts for nothing? I believe Abraham was a good enough person that even without knowing exactly why, he convinced himself it was for good and it needed to happen. He convinced himself that he wanted to sacrifice his son.

Am I wrong? Is that a weakness or a mistake to sidestep the bereavement by convincing yourself you want the same as God? Or is it better to do it that way than to obey without really wanting to? Is there a right way to be obedient, a right attitude? Abraham maybe wasn’t doing it grudgingly, but instead sadly. Is that wrong?

In what way am I supposed to be obedient? May I go forward, sadly obeying, or should I focus on convincing myself that I want to obey, despite it being terribly frustrating and hard and painful? I think it will take some deep focus and reflection on the scriptures and myself before I will come to any conclusion. Do you have any suggestions?

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  1. kialei

     /  January 22, 2009

    I like this a lot.

    When I went home for Christmas, we had a pretty heated debate about obedience in sunday school (with all of the old army men, country folk, and ex-Baptist preachers). Some people were of the opinion that it is better to obey half-heartedly than not to obey at all. Others thought that begrudging obedience counts for nothing. Overall, there was a lot of interesting discussion that I got a lot out of.

    Our actions are a) reflections of our thoughts/fruits of our beliefs and/or b) practice for what we want our thoughts/beliefs to be.

    Say there is a service project. Ideally, we should want to go out of the goodness of our hearts in order to serve our fellow men. More likely, we go because we WANT to be the kind of person who serves from the heart, even if we’re not necessarily there yet. Or, we go to see our friends, be social, show off how righteous we are, etc. Or, we go because we are forced/feel some sense of duty, and hate it the entire time. Or, we don’t go at all.

    I think, in this situation, going to the service project only does you any good if you are in the first two categories. Going either reflected that you have a good heart or is your way of trying to better your heart. Otherwise, you don’t get anything positive out of it.

    If we are to be judged on our hearts, and not our actions, then our actions are pretty pointless if we don’t believe in what we’re doing. If we don’t love our fellow man, all the service in the world isn’t going to make up for that. If we use our actions as practice for becoming better people, then of course it is better to be obedient even if we aren’t necessarily in the mental state that we think we should be in. But if we aren’t attempting to make progess… then our actions are fairly pointless.

    That’s what I got out of the discussion, anyways. And a lot of it rang really true to me.

  2. Maria

     /  January 26, 2009

    I’ve been thinking about this. I think there is nothing wrong with finding obedience difficult. If the Lord requires something of you that makes you sad, obedience to Him in that case simply shows an extra sacrifice, an extra measure of devotion. You don’t have to stop loving your son, if you’re Abraham, for example. You just have to love the Lord MORE. In Abraham’s case, the issue wasn’t even that he had unrighteous desires. He loved his son – what’s wrong with that? If the Lord only expected obedience from those who knew exactly what His purposes were and only wanted things that were in line with what He wanted, there’d be no test to it, would there? He KNOWS we have other desires. We just have to prove that His will is the most important desire, to which all our other desires must subordinate.
    That’s as far as I got. I guess what I mean is that you don’t have to kill yourself trying to tear all other feelings out of your heart, you just have to love the Lord more than anything/anyone. And that means you obey Him. His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, so we don’t always understand why He wants us to do the things He commands. But we do them anyway, because our greatest desire is that His will be accomplished in all things.

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