People who have dogs will often give them some type of obedience training. It is through this training that the dog will learn some basic commands, such as how to sit, stay, or come when prompted. When the owner gives the decree, the dog will respond accordingly, and this outcome will make the owner happy.
Trainers have different ways in which they train the animals. Some use various collars and devices that issue sounds dependent upon the outcome of the animal. For instance, if the dog responds to the command ‘roll over’, a device may make a beeping sound to mark this desired behavior. In this way, the dog knows that they responded correctly, and through this training, the owner is making the dog act the best it can act.
How is this like our lives in Christ, you may ask? What does training a dog have to do with living for God? Well, God wants us to be obedient to Him as well. He is our ‘owner’, and he has issued many commands for us to follow. Now this is not to liken our lives and experiences to that of an animal, but there are some basic principles and parallels that we can draw from.
1 Samuel 15:22 is an often quoted verse from the Bible that states: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” God is saying that above all, He delights when we obey him. We can give up much for God, giving our time, our resources—many things that we think He wants us to give. But if we disobey his commands, He is disappointed in us. It’s as if we are giving up all these things but refuse to give the one thing that He desires the most, and that is us.
Well what do you mean, he desires ‘us’? Aren’t I giving up a lot when I give Him my time and my resources, you also may inquire? Yes, you are. But when we do not do what He wants us to do, we in effect say, “God, I’m giving up all these things for you, but from time to time, I still want to do some things that are totally not what you want. I still would like to sin every now and then and disobey you.” And how do you think that makes God feel? How would you feel if you heard that?
God gives us many decrees, many instructions, that are all designed to make our lives better. It may not seem it at the time, but anything that the Lord commands us to do always hold our best intentions in mind. When we choose to obey, and if we listen closely, we may hear that ‘beep’ that indicates to us that this is the desired behavior that God wants. We know that we are making our owner—God—happy when we obey the commands that He gives to us. Just like the animals, we too are being trained to be the best possible person that God created us to be.