Obedience is the Highest Form of Worship
“Stay on the path that the Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” (Deuteronomy 5:33, NLT)
As a youth leader, sometimes you think that the young adults you spend every Friday night with miss it. It’s easy to think that you’re not reaching them because they don’t always verbalize or visibly respond to the Jesus you’re always trying to pour into them. And then, sometimes, they come out with some amazing one-liner that makes you feel like the
student and them the teacher.
Recently, one of my youth came out with one of those one-liners. He had been sharing the things he was learning at his mid-week Bible study when he dropped this: “Obedience is the highest form of worship.”
I know, right? How does that come out of a tween headed to high school? The simple answer is Jesus. Jesus is moving him to listen, absorb, process, and now verbalize a lesson that I’m still learning in obedience.
And you know what? I was convicted and encouraged all at the same time. Obedience is the highest form of worship. More than any song, any piece of music, dance, or devotion, the Lord is the most exalted– the most glorified– when we obey Him and follow the direction He’s given us.
So why is it so hard for us to obey? Because our flesh, at its core, is rebellious. Whether it’s parents, an employer, or the Lord Himself, don’t we feel dread when we learn that there is something difficult or uncomfortable we’ve been asked to do? Don’t we get defensive at times, making excuses as to why that direction isn’t convenient or secure?
I do, all the time. And I’m sure if you’re being honest, you do too.
So let’s take a page from the Israelites. In our key verse, Moses is relaying the events from when he received the Ten Commandments from God. As the chapter goes on, Moses starts talking about how God displayed Himself to the people at the foot of the mountain, and how they were in awe of his greatness and glory.
“ [The Israelites] said, ‘Look, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire. Today we have seen that God can speak to us humans, and yet we live!’” (Deuteronomy 5:23-24, NLT)
So this verse shows that the people experienced the greatness of God and responded to it. If you skip down to verse 27– and I won’t go there because I have to be wary of my word count– you’ll see that they tell Moses to go and speak to God on their behalf again. They tell him to listen to everything God has to say, come back, tell them, and they will obey everything the Lord says.
But here’s the important thing I want you to see today: The Israelites were only willing to obey the Lord after having experienced Him. They were only open to following His word after they saw his greatness and His glory. The sorry truth is, we will never obey the Lord– especially with the hard stuff– if we never experience Him.
It gets harder to obey if we live outside His presence, just like it gets harder to worship Him when we live outside of His glory. We’re only human. If we don’t purpose ourselves to constantly remember the goodness of God, we will naturally lose our desire to obey His word.
And you know what’s really beautiful? When Moses went up the mountain to speak with God, and God is so moved by their desire to obey. He is delighted with it, and it’s not about a power thing, it’s not about the authority of being obeyed. It’s about love. The people have seen God in all His beauty and awesome nature, and they are so captured by it that they want to show Him they love Him through obedience.
Obedience is the highest form of worship. Obedience to God is the best we can give Him. Other people might not understand the command He’s given you to carry out, and that’s okay. They don’t have to. Sometimes it will take bravery to obey Him. Sometimes it will take moving out of your comfort zone.
But if you want to honor God in worship, if you want to show Him that your love for Him runs deep, then obedience to Him and His mysterious plan is the best you can hope to do.
Stay the path that God is asking you to stay faithful to. The tomorrows that you are on your way to entering, conquering, and occupying will only be won in obedience.
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