Another quality exhibited by the follower of the Lord is that of obedience, i.e. observing or keeping the commands of the Lord. Reading through this list of attributes that we’ve been studying for a few months now in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, it is difficult to imagine that even in this Old Testament context (as the “next” generation prepares to enter the Promised Land) this attribute would be seen as legalistic and perfunctory. The fear of the Lord is a heart attitude as is love for the Lord. Service to the Lord is to be wholehearted–engaging the entirety of one’s soul. Surely the obedience of the Old Testament people of God and the obedience of any disciple of Jesus was and is motivated by a grateful heart.
The bigger context of this passage is set in the reality of salvation, i.e. the exodus of the children or people of God out of Egypt, a beautiful drama of salvation in their lives. The follower of Christ, living in His grace, is always wondering how he or she can please the Lord in daily life and that desire to grant the Father pleasure is demonstrated by expressions of trusting faith and sensitive obedience to the Father’s will. In The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “….Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:10, ESV). And as Jesus prepared to die and depart, he reminded his disciples:
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him,” (John 14:21, ESV).
I might also suggest that the natural consequence of “fearing, walking with, loving and serving” the Lord would be heartfelt obedience. And if obedience was expected of the believer in these early days of God’s redemptive plan (salvation from Egyptian slavery), one might expect an even greater response of obedience to the full light of salvation revealed to us by the cross of Christ. Appropriately, Jesus’ Great Commission to “make disciples” appears to be an imperative and includes “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you….” (emphasis mine). Disciples of Christ are commanded to teach obedience to Christ’s commands. He is pleased when we do so as His obedient followers!
Rod Culbertson is presently Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Dean of Student Development at the Charlotte, North Carolina campus of Reformed Theological Seminary. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Carolina and received the Master of Divinity degree from Columbia International University. He married his wife, Cathy, in 1979 and they have 4 grown children. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church in America, Rod served at the University of Florida as a campus minister with Reformed University Fellowship for almost 10 years, having begun that work in 1980. In 1990, Rod and Cathy moved their family to Clearwater, Florida where the Lord used them to start a new PCA church, Christ Community Presbyterian. Rod and his family came to Reformed Theological Seminary/Charlotte in 1994. Rod has earned a Doctor of Ministry degree at RTS and teaches courses in Leadership, Pastoral Ministry, Evangelism and Discipleship, among others.