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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

I Don’t Feel Like Obeying God — What Should I Do?

Watch Football from Microsoft Publisher ClipartDon’t Feel Like Obeying

Last week I knew God was calling me to do something.  But I didn’t want to.  I didn’t feel like it.

And I’m not alone.

We all have times when we don’t feel like obeying.

We know God wants us in church — but we’d rather watch the football game.

We understand we should read the Bible — but we don’t feel like it.

We realize God calls us to forgive — but we don’t want to.

So What Should We Do?

Many of us think we should go ahead and obey.  Just do it.  Git ‘er done.

But — ahem — there’s a problem.

It’s that God doesn’t just call us to obey.  He calls us to obey in a certain way.

He calls us to obey —

  • Heartily — Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. Col 3:23
  • Earnestly — Above all, keep loving one another earnestly. 1 Pet 4:8
  • Joyfully — Because you did not serve the LORD with joyfulness … therefore you shall serve your enemies. Deut 28:47f

So God calls us to want to obey.  To desire to obey.  To gladly obey.

But Why?

Why are these attitudes, feelings, and desires so important?

It’s because they show the truth about our faith.

Take whatever it is that you don’t really want to do.  Maybe it’s mowing the lawn, or inviting your neighbor to your Easter service.

Now think of what God has promised about that area of obedience.  He has promised —

  • that His will is good and perfect (Rom 12:2)
  • that He knows better than you what is best (Isa 55:9)
  • that obeying Him will bring you more of His presence (John 14:21)
  • that obeying Him will bring you the most blessing (John 13:17)
  • that obeying Him will bring you the greatest treasure (Matt 13:44)

Whoa.

So — if you really trusted these promises, would it be possible to obey grudgingly, reluctantly, resentfully?  Not a chance.

You’d obey heartily, earnestly, and joyfully.

Let’s say a stock broker promised that a $100 investment would bring you $100 million.  If you trusted his promise, you’d write that $100 check heartily, earnestly, and joyfully.

In the same way, if we trust that God’s will is perfect, that He knows what is best, that obeying Him will bring more of His presence, the most blessing, and the greatest reward — then we will obey heartily, earnestly, and joyfully.

Which shows that if we are not obeying heartily, earnestly, and joyfully, it’s because we are not trusting God’s promises.

So what can we do?

Ask God To Change Your Heart Before You Obey

Maybe it’s something God is calling you to do tomorrow.  Which means you have time to do something about this today.

In that case, here’s what I suggest —

  • Get your Bible, and maybe kneel by your bed, or sit down at your desk.
  • Turn to God with your unbelieving heart, trusting that through Christ you are forgiven and welcomed by God (Luke 18:13-14).
  • Confess your attitude and unbelief as sin, and ask Him to forgive and cleanse you (1 John 1:9).
  • Ask for the work of the Spirit to free you from unbelief, and strengthen your faith (Luke 11:13).
  • Open your Bible and pray over each promise listed above (or other Scriptures you find helpful) (Gal 3:5).
  • Do this until the Spirit strengthens your faith, and you feel your attitude changing (Luke 18:27).

But what if it’s something God is calling you to right now?  In that case —

Ask God To Change Your Heart While You Obey

Remember that God doesn’t just want obedience.  He wants obedience that’s hearty, earnest, and joyful.

So if your heart isn’t right, don’t just make yourself obey.  Ask God to change your heart while you obey.

Let’s say you are driving your family to church, but you’d rather stay home and watch the football game.  What can you?

Keep your eyes on the road and join in the conversation — but as you can, pray through the above steps.

Cry out to God to forgive you.  Plead with Him to change your heart.  Pray over His promises.

Then continue to pray as you get out of the car and walk to worship.  And continue as you start to worship.

As you do this the Holy Spirit will change your heart.  He will destroy your unbelief, strengthen your faith, change your desires.

Really?  Really.

In fact, He could so overwhelm you with God’s majesty that if someone later asked about the game you’d say —

Football game?  What football game?

Comments?  Thoughts?

I’d love to hear them.  Leave a reply below — thanks.

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(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher Clipart.)

Category: Motivation for Obedience

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8 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    Thanks. I really find your blog helpful, keep up the good work, and happy Easter. 🙂

  2. dena says:

    I try hard to pbey and live right but ive fallen a lpt lately I’ve been reqding tryin tp strenghthen.my faith.cause sometimes i feel lost but i always know what god has done for me i cpuldnt dp on my own sp why do we still sin? I want to live a life free of it

  3. Amber says:

    This post has been so helpful. I have been frustrated about my lack of obedience. I have prayed for obedience and couldn’t figure out why God wasn’t giving me the ability when I wanted to obey Him so badly. This shows me that like all other things, He cares more about the state of my heart than me going through the physical motions. Praising Him!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Amber,

      I am so glad that this brought some encouragement to you. I find it so encouraging that God not only calls us to obey, but enables us to obey, as we fight to trust His precious and magnificent promises.

      May the Lord richly bless you,

      Steve Fuller

  4. Rosario says:

    What a great post! I’ve recently dealt with this issue. A family member and I had a falling out. She behaved in a way that lead me to stop talking to her all together about two years ago. In recent months, I felt that God was pushing me to apologize for my actions. In the beginning I just brushed it off. There was no way I was going to say sorry to her because I didn’t feel I did anything wrong. Months went by and the feeling grew stronger and stronger that I should just do it, and so yesterday I finally did. God would never steer me wrong, he has never let me down. Whether she accepts or not, I obeyed him and in the end that’s all that matters.

  5. Commenter says:

    I don’t understand all the talk about “free will” and “God wants lovers not robots”–because it seems if you have to ask Him to change how you are naturally feeling (feelings that make you YOU) (ie: i wanna stay home and watch football) then isn’t that the same thing as God “controlling” your emotion (like a robot??)? Why can we not just feel an emotion or way without having to beat it into submission with a God stick? If we always have to ask Him to change our natural feeling, then our feelings are really His and not our own..which sounds, again, like a robot.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, but I think there is another way of understanding this.

      It sounds like you think the feelings that spontaneously arise in us are natural, and should not be resisted.

      But wouldn’t you agree that some feelings that spontaneously arise in us are wrong? And if so, wouldn’t it be good news that God could change our hearts so we spontaneously have different feelings?

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

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