“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8-11
Becoming obedient. Sounds like a process to me, and I hear the Lord’s grace and mercy. It’s not that I am obedient, but I am becoming obedient. I want to be obedient because I love the Lord. As my love for Jesus grows, I become more and more obedient. So what exactly does obedient mean?
I think perhaps we loose sight of the true base of obedience, and instead see the present day definition of obedience which is complying or willing to comply with orders or requests; submissive to another’s will. I go to a place and automatically think that you either obey or you do not obey, and there is someone around to enforce it or at least dictate what you are supposed to do.
I think we get caught up in the action of the command, for example “I always obey my father,” that we forget the origins of this word. The Greek word in Philippians 2:8 is hupékoos (G5255) which is attentively listening, (by implication) submissive. It is derived from two words ‘hoop’ (G5259) which means under and ‘akouo’ (G191) which is a primary verb and means to hear, understand. To me this makes sense because “under” represents the submissive portion and “to hear” is the attentively listening portion.
‘Obey’ is similar in latin with its origins; ‘ob’ is in the direction of, and ‘audire’ is hear.
All this time, I’ve thought of the words obey or obedience to have action behind it, from following directions. However, in the action of following directions I forget the first action is actually listening. To obey is to listen, it’s the first step of obedience. Listening. Oh, that’s hard sometimes. When every cell in my body wants to know what’s next, I take action into my own hands and forget to listen. If I don’t listen, I can not be obedient.
“But I don’t want to listen!” my upset child says while arms flail. They hear, but it’s not followed by the action of what they’ve heard, obedience. The submissive listening, understanding. Lowering themselves, humbling themselves, to do what’s been asked is hard sometimes. We can choose to humble ourselves and be obedient. Choosing to take everything and everyone, including ourselves, off of the pedestal.
In Acts 22:8-10, Saul (Paul) asks two questions. “Who are you, Lord?” and “What shall I do, Lord?” If we ask God these questions, we should be willing to listen for the answers if we want to obey. If I want to be obedient I must first ask the question and listen, so I know what to do. My 9 year old son has had a habit his entire life of asking a question and not listening for the answer. It’s frustrating as a parent! We will answer his question only to be tuned out immediately and have it asked 30 seconds later, multiple times in a row. He gets frustrated because he thinks we don’t answer him, and we get frustrated because he doesn’t listen. It’s insanity! I wonder if our Creator experiences a similar situation with us sometimes.
I can show my love for the Lord by being obedient. If I am to be obedient, I must first listen. So what does listening look like? How do I listen? Especially, how do I listen to the Lord?
The plan is to continue this on the next post, don’t want to get too long winded here. But be thinking! I’m curious as to how you listen to the Lord.