Thursday, May 12, 2011

Developing Christlike Attributes: Obedience

In July 1976, Israeli special forces made a daring raid at an airport in Entebbe, Uganda, in which 103 Jewish hostages were freed. In less than fifteen minutes, the soldiers had killed all seven of the kidnappers and set the captives free.
As successful as the rescue was, however, three of the hostages were killed during the raid. As Israeli commandos entered the terminal, they shouted in Hebrew, "Get down! Crawl!" The Jewish hostages understood and lay down on the floor, while the guerrillas, who did not speak Hebrew, were left standing. Quickly the rescuers shot the upright kidnappers.

However, two of the hostages hesitated  and were also cut down. One young man was lying down and actually stood up when the commandos entered the airport. He, too, was shot with the bullets meant for the enemy. Had these three heeded the soldiers' command they would have been freed with the rest of the captives.

Obedience is the first law of heaven. It is an act of faith. You may sometimes be required to do things you do not completely understand. It is important in these situations to remember that " doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend." (Mosiah 4:9) If we refuse to head to the counsel of the Lord and keep His commandments, we too will become a casualty in the war against sin and temptation.

As we obey we increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom. The Lord tells us, " I, the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when you do not what I say, ye have no promise." The Lord has blessings in store for us if we obey his commandments and cleave to his words.

Just like the Jewish prisoners who were freed when they listened and obeyed the instructions of  the Israeli officers, we too can be freed from personal bondage when we heed the instruction of the Lord. We can be made clean from addiction, made spotless from sin, and be led to glorify God through Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.

Ezra Taft Benson once said, "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, then God will endow us with power from on high."  God will give us the strength to do everything, if we are obedient to him. Often in the world today, obedience seems to mean that we are made captive or imprisoned. However, being obedient does just the opposite, it makes us free by allowing us to overcome the captivity that is wrought by sin and disobedience to God's commandments. Ezra Taft Benson also relates this story to the principle of obedience:

While flying a kite, I once asked my father, “Dad, what holds the kite up?”
“The String,” he replied.

“No, Dad, the string holds it down, not up.”

“If you think so, let go of the string,” he said, “and see what happens.”

I let go and the kite began to fall! It seems odd that the very thing which seems to keep the kite down is actually what keeps it up. And this is true not only of kites but of life. Those strings that are tied to us, those rules and regulations that seem to hold us down, are actually holding us up.

And certainly in the realm of the spirit, in the field of faith, this same truth holds with even greater force. The word “religion” is said to come from a Latin root meaning “to hold back” or tie back. And this is what religion does. It provides the string to the soaring kite of our spirit; it keeps us from falling! It binds us to great values; it attaches us to great causes; it helps us fly high in the aid of God’s truth and lifts us until our heads touch the stars and our lives take on the beauty of men and women who are bound closely to God.

I add my witness to Ezra Taft Benson's, that as we strive to be obedient and live the laws of the Lord, we will establish an armor around our spirits that will offer protection from temptation. May we all strive to be more obedient, seek the love that our Savior offers us through obedience to his commandments. Through our obedience, he will rescue us.

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