LISTENING TO AND OBEYING GOD
Text: 1 Corinthians 4:14-21
14 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.
15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.
17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you.
19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.
20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.
21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
In most human settings, especially in Jewish, ancient Greek and even African settings, it is sacrosanct that children listen to and obey their fathers without questioning. A good child is known or identified by his obedience to the teachings and directives of his father. In this regard, it is the task and responsibility of every Christian father to bring up his children in the instruction of the Lord.
This is the reason why Paul stresses in vs. 15; “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel”. The point made by Paul was based on the Greek tradition known by the Corinthians in which a father can get many instructors for the upbringing of his son but retains the final authority in himself as the father. To Paul, many teachers had taught the Corinthians, but based on the fact that he gave birth to the Church, he was their father to whom they owe allegiance of obedience. That the roles of the instructors ends when the child becomes adult (Gal. 3:24-25), in contrary, the role of the father never ends. Paul believed that the Corinthians obedience to him is as well obedience to God. His purpose was that the Corinthian’s Church keeps the instructions of God.
To help the church in keeping God’s instruction, Paul had to send Timothy to them. Timothy was someone whom Paul personally led to the Lord (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2) while he was in Lystra on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:8-18). Timothy was someone who knew Paul’s heart and teachings. Thus Timothy would do nothing beyond helping the Corinthians know God’s instructions
It was therefore, the responsibility of the Corinthian Church that they were obedient Children by listening to and obeying God. Unfortunately this was not so as Church failed on many occasions to yield to God’s instructions. In the gospel passage read, John 16:5-22. Jesus says one of the duties of the comforter He would send after his departure is to convict the world of sin. The Church instead of been sober and discipline one of them who committed adultery with his father’s wife, they puffed up forgetting the instruction of God on adultery. If Paul should write our church today, or write us as individuals, are we going to be commended on obedience to God and His precepts or condemned us for disobedience.
Let us all realise that God is our father; we are children of God by adoption through Christ. (Gal 4:6; 3:26; Rom. 8:15) it is therefore our duty and responsibility as God’s children to listen to Him and obey Him. To God, obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22). Furthermore, it is the price of success in our endeavours (Josh 1:8), and way of entrance into God’s kingdom (Matt. 7:21 &Luke 8:2). It is imperative duty of every child of God to be obedient (Acts 5:29; Deut. 26:16; 32:46).
Both obedience and disobedience come with blessings and curses respectively. In Deuteronomy 28, we have blessings and curses based on obedience and disobedience.
The Holy Spirit is available for every child of God to enable him listen and obey God.
Remember, our worship, spirituality, prayers amount to nothing if we keep disobeying God.
Very Revd Adewale Adebiyi Ph.D