We are all probably familiar with the 10 Commandments. Whether we believe that they are from God, guidelines to a better life, or a nuisance is up to each of us. As I thought about the commandments God has given us I realized none of us are on the same path. There are at least four different levels of obedience. Let’s use the example of taking cookies out of a cookie jar to demonstrate each level.
1) Those that will not obey. These are the people that willfully and purposefully take a cookie just because they are not supposed to take a cookie. They choose to not follow the rules or be confined in anyone else’s boundaries.
2) Those that obey out of fear of punishment. These people will not take a cookie because they fear being caught. The anticipation of consequence motivates them to stay within bounds. It is not a loyal obedience and if the fear ever dissipates they will break the rule.
3) Those who obey for the sake of obeying. These people will not take a cookie because of the praise or honor they receive for following the rules. Much like the second group there is no loyalty here. They will break the rule if their perception of the rule giver becomes disillusioned or tainted. It is not loyal obedience if the reward is the outcome.
4) Those who obey because of love and respect for the law giver. These are the type of people that will not take a cookie out of the cookie jar because they trust the person that told them not to. This is the highest level of obedience and is a show of love. It is a deep level of commitment and depth of character. The only way this person would ever take a cookie is if they lose love completely.
Those are the four levels of obedience I have noticed. It probably is not a complete list. I often move between the second two depending on the day. My goal is to hit level four and remain constant. But that is a life long pursuit.