WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – This writing will find a number of us on the fence about some area of obedience to Christ: a sin, habit, or hurtful attitude He wants us to abandon; or some ministry, spiritual discipline, or Godly outlook He wants us to take up. We have a pretty good idea of what He wants us to do; now we’re wrestling with timing. When’s the best time to make the change? When will I be ready? When will others accept it?
The Corinthians were asking similar questions. They had come into Christ’s kingdom, and they knew they needed to cut their ties to the deeply-pagan culture in which they’d been raised. Paul reminded them of God’s command through Isaiah: “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing…”1 But was it really necessary to do it all at once, and did they have to do it now?
In answer, Paul reminded them of God’s timing. After they had put God off all their lives, He sent Paul to proclaim the gospel of grace to them. And the very minute they turned to Christ, God was ready right then to hear their prayers of repentance and faith. That very day became their day of eternal salvation. And each moment after remained the right time to turn from sin to obedience.
“Working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain – for He says, ‘At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2 Cor. 6:1-2 NASB)
The Corinthians were in danger of having nothing to show in their lives for all the wonderful grace of God they had received. The most basic meaning of the Greek word translated “vain” is simply empty. It’s possible to receive the grace of God and to be destined for heaven and yet to have little to show for it in this life – to come up empty-handed in terms of God-honoring results. The difference is heart-felt, faith-filled obedience.
Paul reminded them and us of two of the most important components of the obedience God requires of His children: it is immediate, and it is on-going. Said another way, it is immediate obedience, moment after moment and day after day.
WONDERFUL THING IN MY LIFE – A few weeks ago, God told me to make a certain change in my schedule. As I began to consider when I’d be able to do it, I remembered what the Lord had taught me years ago through the words of Thomas a Kempis: “Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is; delayed obedience is disobedience.” By the grace of God, I took a step of obedience that day, and the results have been great.
I believe some of you reading this are at the edge of obedience in some area but are toying with the idea of putting it off a while. I know it’s dangerous to write counsel this specific, but I believe you will know whether the admonition of Elijah applies to you: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him.”2
Every moment is the right time for obedience to our Lord and Master. The Lord values one step of obedience more than a year of thinking about it.
1 2 Cor. 6:14-17; Isa. 52:11. 2 1 Kings 18:21.