Excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest
You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. —John 13:13

Our Lord nev­er insists on hav­ing author­i­ty over us. He nev­er says, You will sub­mit to me.” No, He leaves us per­fect­ly free to choose— so free, in fact, that we can spit in His face or we can put Him to death, as oth­ers have done; and yet He will nev­er say a word. But once His life has been cre­at­ed in me through His redemp­tion, I instant­ly rec­og­nize His right to absolute author­i­ty over me. It is a com­plete and effec­tive dom­i­na­tion, in which I acknowl­edge that You are wor­thy, O Lord…” (Rev­e­la­tion 4:11). It is sim­ply the unwor­thi­ness with­in me that refus­es to bow down or to sub­mit to one who is worthy. 

When I meet some­one who is more holy than myself, and I don’t rec­og­nize his wor­thi­ness, nor obey his instruc­tions for me, it is a sign of my own unwor­thi­ness being revealed. God teach­es us by using these peo­ple who are a lit­tle bet­ter than we are; not bet­ter intel­lec­tu­al­ly, but more holy. And He con­tin­ues to do so until we will­ing­ly sub­mit. Then the whole atti­tude of our life is one of obe­di­ence to Him.

If our Lord insist­ed on our obe­di­ence, He would sim­ply become a taskmas­ter and cease to have any real author­i­ty. He nev­er insists on obe­di­ence, but when we tru­ly see Him we will instant­ly obey Him. Then He is eas­i­ly Lord of our life, and we live in ado­ra­tion of Him from morn­ing till night. 

The lev­el of my growth in grace is revealed by the way I look at obe­di­ence. We should have a much high­er view of the word obe­di­ence, res­cu­ing it from the mire of the world. Obe­di­ence is only pos­si­ble between peo­ple who are equals in their rela­tion­ship to each oth­er; like the rela­tion­ship between father and son, not that between mas­ter and ser­vant. Jesus showed this rela­tion­ship by say­ing, I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obe­di­ence by the things which He suf­fered” (Hebrews 5:8). The Son was obe­di­ent as our Redeemer, because He was the Son, not in order to become God’s Son.

Excerpt­ed from My Utmost for His High­est.

Pho­to by Out­cast India on Unsplash

Text First Published January 1934 · Last Featured on Renovare.org January 2023

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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