The Test of Obedience

Judges 20:23
“(And the children of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until even, and asked counsel of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up again to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And the LORD said, Go up against him.)”

The children of Benjamin and the rest of the tribes of Israel were in a civil war because of a heinous crime that had been committed in Benjamin’s borders which had not been addressed. The rest of the tribes of Israel thought Benjamin should have addressed this crime, but Benjamin was not going to do anything about it. This resulted in a civil war.

The interesting thing about this story is that the tribes who wanted to do right didn’t seem to prosper. They asked God whether they should go to war, and the LORD told them to go; however, every time they followed the word of the LORD they lost until the last battle. Even when obedience brought victory, the victory still brought loss. In this story, there are several principles about obedience that reveals your desire for right.

First, obedience doesn’t always bring blessing. These tribes lost wars, but they kept doing right. There will be times when obedience won’t cause you to prosper. Many prosperity preachers teach that obedience always brings blessings, but this isn’t always true. There are going to be times when you obey that it is going to seem like you lost.

Second, obedience doesn’t always make things better. One reason a person obeys is because they think the situation in their life will be bettered if they do right. The story from the verse above shows us that there are times when obedience makes things worse. I’m not trying to be a prophet of doom, but there are times when obeying will make your situation worse, but you must still do right.

Third, obedience sometimes brings defeat. The tribes who obeyed lost the battle twice, but that didn’t keep them from obeying. Christian, just because you lost a battle for doing right doesn’t mean that you were wrong. There will be times when doing right causes you to be on the losing side. Anyone who has done right for any length of time will testify that they have experienced defeat as a result of obedience, but that didn’t make them wrong. If God tells you to do something, it is the right thing to do even if you don’t win.

Fourth, obedience will sometimes be hurtful. When the tribes who were doing right finally won, they wept because a tribe was lost in Israel. There are times when doing right will hurt, but you must keep doing right. Just because it hurts doesn’t mean that you were wrong. There have been many times in my life when doing right hurt me, but I’m still glad I did right.

Why should we obey? Because it is right! It takes a love for truth to obey. The reason you obey is because it is what God wants you to do. You are going to have to ask yourself this question; are you willing to obey even if it hurts you and doesn’t benefit you? This is the true sign of an obedient heart. You can always be assured that if you obey, you will reap the benefits in the long run, but in the immediate it may not go well with you. It is the Christian who does right even when it doesn’t benefit them who makes the difference in the lives of others. The true test of your love for truth will be if you obey when you know you will lose.