Recently I watched a You Tube video of a dog that could do just about anything! It was amazing to see this “rescued dog” do things on command–look left, look right, stand up, sit down. The dog understood when its master said jump twice or jump once. He could do almost any command you could think of, even “sing” on command. It was truly amazing. For some reason after I watched that video, it reminded me of the “parenting Bible study” that we led many years ago! I can remember listening to the tapes and feeling very convicted and “silly” all at the same time. Allow me to explain!
Gary Ezzo was explaining how smart babies are in one of the first sessions. He pointed out that they can understand commands before they developmentally can speak. You can teach a baby to use sign language to communicate. It is so true and, trust me, I watched it work. Babies can actually be taught the words “more” and “thank you” before they can say them. I was amazed!!!! The second thing he pointed out, which made me feel “silly,” no, a more appropriate word would be “stupid” was, “Why would anyone train their child to obey only after the third command?” “Why wouldn’t you train a child to do something the first time you ask, instead of having to ask several times, and then count to 3?” He continued to point out the thinking behind “FIRST TIME OBEDIENCE” and how, like telling a dog to sit, you could train a child to do things on the first command. It accomplishes several things.
First, it would alleviate the parents’ frustration if we would, on the front end, bring the child to this expectation (pointing out a young child will do WHATEVER WE condition them to do). Second, it could save the child’s life. He gave an example of a child standing with a parent when the kid sees a dog and starts to run after it. The danger is that the child is unaware of an oncoming car. If the child is trained in “first-time obedience,” then the parent could say “stop” and the child would stop, thus potentially saving his life. This thinking made so much sense to me. As I continued to listen to this particular session on the benefits of training a child with discipline and doing things immediately and completely, I was so encouraged. He pointed to Scripture to support his study and reasoning. You would have to listen to all 18 hours of the course and read the notes to understand this “parenting course,” but in my opinion, it is by far one of the very best things we did as parents. The course was called, “Growing Kids God’s Way.”
Besides putting Bill and I on the same page with disciplining our kids, and also giving us like-minded friends who desired the same thing for their kids, it truly taught me what God thinks about our obedience–fully and completely to HIM. In 1 Samuel 15:22 it says, “To OBEY is better than sacrifice and to HEED is better than the fat of rams.” Before any works we can do for the Lord, God is first and foremost concerned with our obedience, our full obedience, not partial. God wants us to fully obey out of a heart fully yielded to HIM. We realized that teaching our kids to fully obey us as parents was actually giving them the “discipline” that would parallel to how God wants us to obey HIM.
When parenting full obedience in our children, this meant, for example, if we told our child to take “all the trash out,” it meant the trash from upstairs too, not just the trash from the kitchen. Going through this training of our children was exhausting at times. At times, when they would give me partial obedience, I was tempted to accept it, especially when I was tired and they were complaining. I realized through this Bible study for parents that “partial obedience” was TOTAL DISOBEDIENCE.
GOD wants us to obey fully so that we can receive HIS BEST FOR US. Isaiah 1:19, “If you are willing and OBEDIENT, you shall eat the good of the land.” I have found when I fully obey Christ, Blessings ALWAYS follow. The first blessing I receive is a PEACE that is indescribable unless you experience it. A peace of assurance and tranquility that gives my heart joy. Unbelievers often think Christians obey out of obligation or guilt or fear of punishment, but the opposite is true. Because we have been forgiven and set free, we obey out of love—thus our obedience brings joy. Jesus wants us to obey like He obeyed the Father. He obeyed fully which, for HIM, meant death on the cross.
True obedience to God isn’t passive, it is active. In Matthew 7:21 it states, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but the one who DOES THE WILL of my Father who is in heaven.” God wants HIS best for us. He created us and KNOWS THE BIG PICTURE OF OUR LIVES. HE HAS THE “HELICOPTER VIEW”. Just as we can see danger ahead for our children, and see things ahead as blessings, if they will HEED our wisdom gained from experience, so our Heavenly FATHER KNOWS WHAT IS BEST FOR US. OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST, leads to a LIFE OF SIGNIFICANCE THUS LEADING TO A LIFE OF SUCCESS.