I think we would all agree that it is certainly easier to have a friendship or a relationship with another person when that person likes us. When they treat us with respect, we are more apt to want to spend time with them. When they do kind things for us, we want to return the favor and do kind things for them. I met a lady last week that moved about the same time we did last year and has a daughter the same age as our youngest high school daughter. We moved from similar areas. As we were parting ways she said, “It would be nice to get together and have coffee sometime.” I emailed her later and her response was again very pleasant and encouraging, “I was serious about getting coffee together.” It certainly makes us want to reach out to someone that wants to spend time with us.
Why is it when God said in I Samuel 12:24, “Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart, for consider what great things He has done for you,” the Israelites did not follow His commands?
As we were reminded in the last blog post, the Israelites were in a constant routine of disobedience, punishment, cry for help, then obedience. It seems easy for me to look at them and think, “What on earth was their problem?” God had saved them from their Egyptian slavery, divided the Red Sea so they could cross on solid, dry ground, defeated numerous enemies, provided food for 40 years, and gave them a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
As we have looked at this passage in I Samuel 12:20-24, God has been giving the Israelites instructions through Samuel. These instructions are summarized again in verse 24, “fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully.” Two instructions that must be followed and why should the people do this? “Consider how great things God has done for you.” (I Samuel 12:24).
It is much easier for me to have a relationship with someone who reciprocates. Here is God saying to the people, “I have done all these things for you and all I ask is for you to do two things: Fear Me and serve Me faithfully.”
So why was it so hard? Selfishness. Pride. Desire to be like the others. Desire for instant gratification. Greed. Do we not grapple with these same issues?
Fearing the Lord is having a deep respect and awe for the Lord. It is having no other gods before the One True God. We may not worship idols, but there are many other things we do place before God in our priority list that God would consider an idol.
One of the things that God desires in this area of fearing Him is having a relationship with Him. It is hard to have a relationship with someone we do not spend time with. It is also not a very meaningful relationship if all we ever do is ask for things. Is your time with God each day time with the most important person in your life? Is your time with God guarded from any interruptions? Is your time with God put above anything else that seems to be pressing in on your day? I have used these examples before but many great men of the faith such as George Mueller spent more time with God each morning the busier they were rather than less time. We would be wise to follow suit.
One of the main purposes God created us is to have a relationship with Him. After all He has done for us, we would be wise to plan our days around our time with the Lord, rather than fitting Him into the time we have left over.
Serving God faithfully looks different for each person. God has a different plan for each of our lives. He created each of us with different abilities. Yet, whatever we do should be done in faithful service to Him.
After all that God has done for us, we should desire to fear Him and serve Him. This is not just any ‘ole someone that desires this. This is the God of the universe. He created you.
Rather than go to coffee with a friend, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or in my case brew a cup of tea), sit down with God’s Word, and seek His face. There will be no regrets.