I was closing out of a YouTube video I had just shown my high school class about a well-known painter when a comment under the video caught my eye. It included a link to a website with more information about the artist. I clicked the link and began looking at the photo galleries and information on the website. Then a subtle thought tugged at my mind – should you really be spending your time doing this?
I ignored that thought, however, and kept reading. It wasn’t long before the information on the website turned into more details about the artist’s personal life, which were far from edifying. In short, this person had lived a very ungodly and sinful life. At that point I clearly realized that I should stop reading. I felt regret inside for not having listened to that still, small voice the first time.
To obey is better than sacrifice
The subtle thought that came to me earlier was God’s Spirit gently warning me to stop what I was doing. If I had obeyed right away, I never would have read that information that was so disturbing – it would have never entered my mind.
Then a verse came to me: “The mind of the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6. God works through His Spirit to lead me to a happy life, free from the burden of sin and ungodliness. The mind of the Spirit in that situation was to guide me to use my time in a way that would be profitable, rather than destructive. His Spirit’s voice is only a help and blessing to me if I obey it. It is not bondage! The things He warns me against are only things that will harm me and rob me of my peace and joy.
If the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, then there is only one thing I should do when I sense the Spirit’s still small voice working in my heart: obey right away! Then I can be preserved in the good and God’s Spirit can continue to work in me and strengthen me to do the good. 1 Samuel 15:22 makes it clear that obedience is what truly pleases God and brings His blessing over my life: “So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.’”
The cost and reward of obedience
It costs me something to obey. I can’t just do whatever I feel like doing and follow my own natural desires and inclinations, and that causes a short time of. But when has living according to my own human tendencies ever led to peace and joy? If I obey in faith, even when I don’t understand why or what the outcome will be, God will reward me. Looking back, I have found that peace and joy have always been the result of obedience.
If I find I lack the will or desire to obey, I can pray to God that He can fill me with it. And I can pray to Him in my situations for power to do what I sense His spirit works in my heart.
If I am tempted to give my thoughts to things I have read, seen, or heard in the past that are not edifying, I can ask God for help and power to drive those thoughts out. Philippians 4:8 is a powerful weapon against such thoughts: “Finally,, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” If I do this, then my mind can be purified and I can come to more life and peace.
It is not a given that I hear the Spirit’s voice, and it is not my natural reaction to take it seriously enough to obey it. That’s why I really need to practice and exercise myself in this (1 Timothy 4:7) This situation has only increased my desire to be attentive to the Spirit’s voice in my heart and obey it right away. I’m so thankful that He knows how to lead me to life and peace!
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