A woman struggled with an assignment. She told God, “I don’t have passion for it.” God asked her, “Do you have obedience for it?” Passion is overrated. We’re told to do what we have passion for. Yes, that can help people. I wrote in my book Dare to Dream that a clue to your destiny is found in what makes you sad, mad, and glad. I’m all for passion, but obedience tops it. Heaven’s voice must be more convincing than the voice within.
Samuel told a slumping king, “To obey is better than sacrifice.” What God tells me to do rates higher than what I choose to do for God. It is hard to overestimate the value of obedience. If a young couple is setting goals for little children, wouldn’t it be more important to teach them to obey than to follow their dream?
Obedience wins the approval of heaven, because God’s ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts than our thoughts. Obedience comes from the throne of God. Passion often arises from the throne of my own heart. Obedience is universally true, in all times and all places and all circumstances. There is never a time when obedience is not critical. There is no exception to obedience, no occasion where obedience does not apply, where we could say it is secondary to vision or human choice or popularity or majority vote. Saul found that out–the hard way!
Obedience is substantial. The weaker side of passion is preference. Certainly the counsel of heaven must override any vote from earth. Be careful, America. You can shut out God with the enthronement of self.
Paul uses a powerful phrase, “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5). Faith cannot stand alone. It needs obedience for the will of God to be carried out, as James clearly showed and the whole chapter of Hebrews 11 proves. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). He may have lacked passion at the moment, but he didn’t lack for obedience. We only need the next step to obey. Passion can give us a picture of tomorrow and beckon us there. Obedience gives us the next step so we are sure to get there. Abraham may have faltered a bit, thinking, “God, I don’t know where I am going.” God would have said, “It’s okay; I do.” Obedience tracks with the will of God–every time. It puts us in the center of His will, even when we’re not sure what it is.
Look at two brothers. “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous” (Hebrews 11:4). Not sure of the passion level, but we know about the obedience level. “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19). Maturity comes from “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Jesus “learned obedience through the things that he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). “He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). Sure sounds important! My suggestion–make it your highest priority!