Teaching for obedience

My friend RIchard and I talk about “teaching for obedience.” It’s when you teach someone something, and then you make sure they are doing it before you move to the next lesson. It can be really slow and it can be really challenging.

Let’s say you are reading from the Bible, somewhere around Matthew 5. And you read this:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”

If you are teaching for understanding, you might explain the background of the text. You might look at the underlying Greek words. You might look for other passages that reflect the same thoughts.

If you are teaching for obedience you might say, “who is intentionally annoying you right now? How are you praying for them?”

I asked this once, of a person who came into my office. Someone was causing frustration. I asked what my friend was praying. My friend laughed and said, “I’m praying that they will be miserable, too.”

loveI suggested that maybe asking God to forgive the other person may be more in touch with the text. Or maybe just saying, “God, do you know why they are causing me pain? I don’t. But could you give them some peace and healing?”

Bob Goff talks about this as “Bible doing” rather than “Bible study.” He says, “At our Bible doing, we read what God has to say and then focus all our attention on what we are going to do about it. Just agreeing isn’t enough. I can’t think of a single time where Jesus asked His friends to just agree with Him” (Love Does, 199.)

I’m pretty sure I’d be different if I obeyed all I know. But some days it’s easier just to learn more.


Love Does is an amazing book. Just saying.

2 thoughts on “Teaching for obedience

  1. Jill

    Yes. Nat and I are going to the Rooted Conference on Saturday in the city. Bob will be there. You know I’m not a “ooooooooo, ahhhhhhh…person” about people but I’m looking forward to meeting a man who is that comfortable with what God has called him to do.


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