Author: Theron Hatch
The Three Phases of Obedience
In the Biblical story of Abram and Lot, the families, servants, and herds of both men had grown so large that they needed to separate because conflict began to rise up between their two kingdoms. As you read the account from Genesis 12:1-8 and 13:5-12, you’ll notice both men were very successful. But the similarities end there.
Both lived in promise, but Lot’s promise was what the fertile land could provide. Lot saw with his eyes. Abram was given a promise by listening to God. Abram saw with his ears (2 Corinthians 4:18). Abram was obedient to God, having received the promise. Lot was obedient to his flesh, his hope misplaced by worldly things. Both chose a way. Only one chose rightly. Just like Abram, we too have a promise (Romans 8:28). With this promise as our backdrop, let’s look at three phases of obedience that were present in Abram’s life that can also apply to our lives in Christ today.
Phase 1 - Listening. The root of the word obedience is actually to hear, not to do. Abram intentionally listened for God’s voice. We too must begin to cultivate an attitude of listening. Listening is active, requiring us to be intentional with our ear focus. Jesus told us why listening is so important: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” (John 16:13 NLT)
Phase 2 - Trusting. When the Spirit speaks, we have a choice to make. Do we trust the One speaking? Abram believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6) We want to trust Him too, but how do we learn to trust God? Through faith. This faith comes from trusting God, and trusting means making one choice at a time. “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see..” (Hebrew 11:1 NLT)
Phase 3 - Doing. Ok, breathe. The hard work is done. It’s time to step out into the action that He called you to, always looking ahead because your promise is bigger than this one decision. It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. (Hebrew 11:8 NLT)
These three phases repeat themselves as we learn to trust Him. As trust grows, an amazing thing happens. Phase 2 disappears, as trusting Him becomes our default response. Soon our ears will crave to hear His voice, not just when we have a big decision to make, but at all times. Those little random decisions we make everyday take on a new light of not being so random after all when under the headship of Jesus. This, my friends, is truly walking by the Spirit.
Heavenly Father, in Jesus You’ve made a way for us to be restored to You. Your promises for us are true. Through Your Holy Spirit, You’ve made a way for us to hear from You. We want to be a people connected to You so intently that Your very Word causes us to move with You. Guide us by Your truth as we advance Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.