Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thankfulness, Not Obedience

"Come, my soul, think thou of this. Believing in Jesus, thou art actually and effectually cleared from guilt; thou art led out of thy prison. Thou art no more in fetters as a bond-slave; thou art delivered now from the bondage of the law; thou art freed from sin, and canst walk at large as a freeman, thy Saviour's blood has procured thy full discharge. Thou hast a right now to approach thy Father’s throne. No flames of vengeance are there to scare thee now; no fiery sword; justice cannot smite the innocent. Thy disabilities are taken away: thou wast once unable to see thy Father’s face: thou canst see it now. Thou couldst not speak with him: but now thou hast access with boldness. Once there was a fear of hell upon thee; but thou hast no fear of it now, for how can there be punishment for the guiltless? He who believeth is not condemned, and cannot be punished. And more than all, the privileges thou mightst have enjoyed, if thou hadst never sinned, are thine now that thou art justified. All the blessings which thou wouldst have had if thou hadst kept the law, and more, are thine, because Christ has kept it for thee. All the love and the acceptance which perfect obedience could have obtained of God, belong to thee, because Christ was perfectly obedient on thy behalf, and hath imputed all his merits to thy account, that thou mightst be exceeding rich through him, who for thy sake became exceeding poor. Oh! how great the debt of love and gratitude thou owest to thy Saviour!" ~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

I love Spurgeon's artistic description of the benefits of redemption that Christ has won for us. When I read this, the last sentence especially stood out to me. Notice Spurgeon did not say, "Because of all this, you owe Jesus your obedience." He said that we owe Him thankfulness and there is a big difference between those two.

Think about it this way: if a person says to you, "It would make me happy if you did this for me," there are two ways you could look at their request. If you are indifferent about the person or you do not like them—you have no relationship with them and no reason to be grateful to them—then their request for their happiness is at your expense. If you do what they ask, it is merely compliance, duty, obedience, and it feels inconvenient or burdensome. However, if you love that person, if you are thankful to them for all they have done for you, then your heart is bound up with theirs and their happiness is your happiness. Then, their request for their happiness is not at your expense at all. Even if it is hard for you, even if you have to drop something important to do it, you do not feel exploited or inconvenienced by the request because you want to make them happy, you want to show them how thankful you are. So it is with God. When there is awe at what He has done in Christ for sinners like us; where there is thankfulness for the many benefits of salvation, duty becomes desire, obedience becomes thankfulness, and sacrifice becomes joyful service. Where there is love and gratitude, there is a desire to show our thankfulness through service. That is what we give God: lives of thankfulness, not obedience to the rules.

By His Grace,


Big Jen said...

I like that comparison of obedience to thankfulness. Never thought about it that way. Thanks for expounding in it.

A. Taylor Rollo... said...

Glad it was helpful. It is nothing from me but the result of what I have been learning from preaching through Colossians. The more and more I think about it, I think it is the key to balancing the fact that Christians cannot do anything to make God love us any more or any less with the call to live holy lives as believers.