Borrowing that new bestselling novel from your friend and neglecting to return it. Lying to your mother. Taking illegal drugs. Having an affair with your neighbor's husband. Shoplifting a shirt from the mall. Running a stop sign. Neglecting to pay your restaurant bill.
While some of these infractions are less serious than others, each of them is a form of negligence to a rule or law. In life, we all have certain commitments and expectations. Some are legal contracts - a marriage document affirms that we stay true to our spouses, an employment contract may ensure that we not share our company's private information, a driver's license holds that we abide by the rules of the road. Other commitments may not be signed documents, but they are equally important.
For example, as citizens of countries, we are expected to uphold laws regarding theft and not physically assault others. Imagine the mayhem in a society in which everyone lives selfishly and lawlessly without regard to established boundaries. Such a place sounds primitive, unsafe, and not very pleasant.
Some of us mock "blind" obedience arguing that we should think for ourselves and that it's OK to deviate from boundaries, rules, or laws. But rules and laws exist for our physical safety. Similarly, God's commandments exist for our spiritual safety.
As parents, we try to instill the principle of obedience in our children. We want for them to mind us and respect our rules. The rules we set are most often for their physical safely and emotional and spiritual well-being. The same can be said for God's rules for us.
"Throughout the ages, men and women have sought for knowledge and understanding concerning this mortal existence and their place and purpose in it, as well as for the way to peace and happiness. Such a search is undertaken by each of us ... A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide - even obedience," says Thomas Monson, leader of a worldwide church.
What benefits do we gain from obedience?
Obedience brings peace. We all make mistakes and commit sins, and to some degree experiment with "living on the edge." But those pathways often lead to feelings of regret, shame, diminished trust, and sorrow. At times, it is difficult to do the right thing, but ultimately, we are happier when we do.
We set a positive example. As parents, we want our kids to make smart, healthy choices. They notice the things we do. Our kids will often emulate our bad habits.
We have a smoother home life. Life is challenging enough without complicating it with disobedience. When we take drugs or steal, for example, we bring trouble to ourselves and our families.
Pastor and writer A. W. Tozer said, "The true follower of Christ will not ask, 'If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?' Rather he will say, 'This is truth, God help me to walk in it, let come what may!'" In other words, sometimes it takes humility and faith to make the right choices.
Monson explains, "The great test of this life is obedience." Our perfect example of obedience is Jesus Christ. To the end, he was righteous, loyal, and submissive. As we follow his example, we can gain more peace in our lives. We can obtain light and knowledge as we live righteously and stay in tune with God. As the world's standards of right versus wrong continue to shift, we can stay on course by doing our best to be obedient to Jesus' laws.