Lessons in Obedience

Have you ever felt that God was calling you or leading you to do something that was either out of your comfort zone or would require you to give up something that was important to you? Sometimes God does that. Sometimes He wants us to step into something that we don’t feel qualified to do or into something that will require us to stretch. And sometimes, the thing that He is calling us to requires that we let go of something. It could mean letting go of a job that we are comfortable in. It could mean a change in lifestyle. Or it could mean letting go of a personal dream to follow His plan for our lives. Whatever the case may be, what God is looking for in us is obedience.

The Christmas story teaches us a lot about obedience. In Luke 1:26-35, we read that God sent an angel messenger named Gabriel to the Galilean city of Nazareth, with a message for a young virgin by the name of Mary who was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. When Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Mary had no idea what this meant and as she tried to make some sense of it, Gabriel continued by telling Mary that she had found favor with God. God had chosen her to give birth to a son whom she was to name Jesus. And this was not to be just any child. This child would be the Son of God and would be given the throne of David. Mary questioned how this could be since she was a virgin, but Gabriel explained that she would conceive the child through the power of the Holy Spirit. And here is where Mary shows us a great example in obedience.

Mary could have reacted by saying, “No way, Gabriel! I am not even married yet. If I become pregnant, what would my family think? What would my neighbors think? And, what about Joseph? If he finds that I am pregnant with a child that he knows cannot be his, he’ll call off the wedding. My life will be ruined!” But instead, Mary’s reply was, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” I’m sure having any baby at that point in her life, let alone a baby who was the Son of God, was not in Mary’s own plans for her life. But Mary chose to accept God’s plan over her own plan. In obedience, she agreed to allow herself to be used for God’s purpose.

In Matthew 1:18-25, we are given another lesson in obedience, this time on the part of Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed. Before they were married, Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant with a child who she claimed was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Joseph’s initial reaction was one that, from a worldly point of view, made sense. He could not go ahead with the marriage. But, since Joseph was a just man and did not want to disgrace Mary publicly, he made plans to send her away quietly. But then an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel verified all that Mary had told Joseph about the child she was carrying. When Joseph woke up from this dream, he laid aside his own plans and in obedience, he married Mary.

This Christmas, as you read or listen to the gospel accounts about the birth of Jesus, take some time to meditate on the obedience shown by Mary and Joseph. Let their example speak to you as you think about ways in which God is looking for you to lay aside your own plans and be obedient to His.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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