Everything we have is a gift from our generous Father. He chose us in Christ before we were even conceived; He decided when we would be born in history, where we would live, what we would look like, our level of health, etc. He gave us our gifts, abilities, and desires. He also gave our family and friends to us. Everything good comes from His loving Hand.
So, since our very life comes from Jesus, what can we give to Jesus in return? How can we show our love and appreciation? How can we express our gratitude for all that He has done?
We can give to Jesus several things, although if we fail to give Him the Prime Thing, nothing else matters.
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21, NIV
The primary way we show our love and thanksgiving to Jesus is by obedience. We need to realize that the commands of Jesus are from Genesis to Revelation, not just the Gospels. [We study this in Master Life and Biblical Law.] Willful, loving obedience is what pleases God.
Of course, I am not talking about legalistically following the commands found in the Bible. Legalism looks to Law to bring salvation. It puts things in the wrong order. It wants us to keep the commands of Jesus to earn salvation or our place with God. This type of obedience is an insult to the Grace and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and is rightly condemned throughout Scripture.
Loving obedience keeps the same Laws, but from a heart already saved and confident of its unshakeable position in Christ. It offers willing obedience as a thank offering, NOT an atonement offering.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ez. 36-26-27, NIV
Ezekiel foresaw the day when God would put His Holy Spirit permanently in His people [Christians of all nationalities, if you had any doubt as to who are the people of God]. If we have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, we should have the ‘want to’ for obedience. If we do not, we a] are not real Christians, b] are very immature, or c] have accepted a distorted view of God’s Law.
The foundational level of obedience is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. Acts 17:30, NIV
Until we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, we cannot please God in any way. This is the vital first step. Without this, we are not even at the starting line.
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29, NIV
While this starts with salvation, it certainly does not end there. We need to work on discovering Who our Jesus is and then believing that it is true. This is one reason studying doctrine and theology is so important - it helps us understand and apply Who Jesus is. We will probably be working on this all eternity without reaching its depths! It is good to get started now. Mature Christians have always been those who loved the Word of God.
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? Rom. 6:16, NIV
The willing walk of obedience leads to a life of righteousness which is well-pleasing to Jesus.
Notice that Paul was talking to Christians here. We must realize the power of choice God has given us. God gave Adam and Eve the power of choice in the Garden, which they threw away so that the only option became evil. Now, in Jesus Christ, the power of choice has been restored. As a Christian, will you choose the path of Adam that leads to death [not talking about salvation here] or the path of Christ [willful obedience to the will of God] which leads to life?
The other things we give to Jesus - such as praise, worship, thanksgiving - are meaningless if we are not choosing a life of loving obedience. Of course, I am not saying that we will never make a disobedient choice. We are in a process. The question is: Is our lifestyle one of obedience? Is obedience our heart’s desire? Do we quickly repent when we fail? If you are ‘in Christ,’ God has given you the power of choice [although the devil and the flesh will try to make you believe that you cannot choose right]. What is your decision?