Many people treat the Bible, and God’s commands, like it is a buffet. I’ll get a little of this and that and avoid all the vegetables that I don’t like. However, is that the attitude we are supposed to have when it comes to serving God? I would suggest to you this morning that we need to have an attitude of all that the Lord says we will do. Such an attitude requires humility, honesty, and perseverance.
The Right Attitude (Exodus 19)
As we begin this morning, we want to turn to Exodus 19. To establish the context, the Israelites have just seen the ten plagues of Egypt, fled from Pharoah, witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, and seen Pharoah’s army be destroyed by the hand of God. They now have arrived at Mt. Sinai, where they are to receive the covenant; however, before they could receive the law, they had to prepare to receive it.
We read in Exodus 19:3-6, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.'” God, through Moses, reminds Israel of His mighty power and justice, sets out the conditions of receiving the covenant, and offers the blessings of obedience. At this point, we read in Exodus 19:8, “All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” Unfortunately, days after this, Israel made the golden calf and went into idolatry. But after Moses intervenes and the unrepentant are removed from the people, Israel reaffirms their covenant with God by saying again, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” (Exodus 24:3).
Requires Humility and Honesty
Having an attitude of doing all that the Lord says will require a humble spirit and honesty with ourselves. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 5:6 that we are to “humble [ourselves] under the might hand of God, that He may exalt [us] at the proper time.” We need a good dose of humility because humility is the antidote to pride. And we need honesty with ourselves and others because honesty is the first step to humility.
Take, for example, King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:17-23. God told him that he was to be His instrument of justice upon the wickedness of the Amalekites (15:2-3). Saul went and obeyed God’s command partially (15:7-9). When Saul was confronted by Samuel the prophet (15:17-19), this was his response, “I did obey the voice of the Lord, and went on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites” (15:20). Saul then shifts the blame to the people (as if a king is subject to the people’s will!), and Saul tries to spin the disobedience into obedience. What we see here is a prideful man who was not honest with himself. This was not the first time in Saul’s life that he had disobeyed or acted like this when confronted with the Word, and it would not be his last.
Now, if we look at Saul’s successor, David, we find a much different story. Over in 2 Samuel 12:1-15, we read of when David, like Saul, was caught in sin. But this time, we will see how humility and honesty make for a world of difference. After David had committed his sins with Bathsheba and Uriah, Nathan the Prophet comes to David with a story of a man and his beloved baby lamb (12:1-4). The king (who had all he wanted) takes that beloved lamb to kill for a feast in the story. After the story, King David is burning with righteous indignation (12:5-6). Nathan responds bluntly, “You are the man!” (12:7). Nathan says further, “Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight?” (15:9). But here is the difference between David and Saul. David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord” (12:13). David doesn’t hide it, doesn’t justify it, doesn’t spin it or shift blame. David had the humility to know God is God, and he is not. And, he had the honesty about himself to know he was in the wrong. And while he had to deal with the earthly consequences of his sin, Nathan tells David, “The Lord has also taken away your sin; you shall not die” (12:14).
A Long Obedience
To maintain an attitude of “all that the Lord says,” we need to have perseverance. When we look at the life of Saul of Tarsus (Paul the Apostle), we see a life of perseverance. A life of faithfulness to God that we could describe as long obedience to the word.
When we first meet Saul, he is an up-and-coming Jewish teacher determined to eradicate this new group who calls themselves Christians (Acts 7:58-8:3). He did this with a clear conscience, but he was mistaken in his belief. When Jesus appears to him on the road to Damascus, he tells him, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told to you what you must do” (Acts 9:5-6). Jesus then speaks to a Christian named Ananias to send him to Saul to preach to him the very Gospel he sought to destroy (Acts 9:10-17). Once Ananias arrives to find a blind-stricken Saul and says to him, “The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him and to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now, why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name’” (Acts 20:14-16). We read back in Acts 9:18, “… and he got up and was baptized.”
From that moment onward, Saul began to preach Christ. He preached all over the known world, suffered many hardships, persecutions, and trials from false brethren and non-believers. But after a lifetime of doing all that the Lord says, Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
God Has Spoken, Are We listening?
In each of the cases we looked at this morning, God spoke to these individuals. Sometimes directly. Other times through a mediator. But in every case, God spoke. God still speaks today. His revealed word, the Bible, is no less miraculous, awe-inspiring, and certainly no less authoritative than when God spoke Himself in times past. The Hebrew writer in Hebrews 1:1-2 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”
What is our attitude when it comes to serving God? I pray we have the right one, one that is accompanied by humility, honesty, and perseverance.