I wrote the following journal entry on Sunday, November 24, 2002, around 11:30 at night. I’m not sure why I was pondering obedience, blessings, and rewards. Perhaps, being six weeks into my 30th year, I was thinking about adulthood.
What is the purpose of obedience? What is the result? What is the reward?
Obedience builds character, strengthens the relationship between the “commander” and the obey(or?). It humbles the one obeying. The one who obeys learns about self: discovers talents, builds skills. Obedience protects.
Is there a reward?
When we obey the Lord, we always reap blessings. I wouldn’t call it rewards, though. The Lord does not reward our good deeds and our obedience to Him. We cannot earn anything from Him. He doesn’t require us to work for His love. Instead, He blesses us.
What is the difference between reward and blessing?
Rewards are earned. Blessings are given. If we do not obey God, we are sinning. And because God is a Holy God, He cannot associate with sin. Let’s compare the Lord to a parent, since He’s our Father, anyway.
A man who works as a schoolteacher calls his teenage sons and asks them to please have the house straightened by the time he gets home from tutoring some students. He’ll be home in three hours. Before he made the phone call, he picked up some NHL tix, which he had ordered a month ago.
On his way home that evening, he is so excited to present his sons with the tickets. But when he gets home, the house is messier than when he left that morning, and the boys are on the couch watching TV. He’s so disappointed. He can’t give them the tickets now. It will seem as though the father is rewarding his sons for their disobedience. He had no intention of giving them the tickets as a reward for anything. He wanted to do it simply because he loves them.
And that is what a blessing is: a gift from God just because He loves us. But when we disobey, we tie His hands and cut off what goodness we had coming to us anyway—just because. We are then obliged to seek forgiveness and repent.
Why is it so difficult to obey? Why don’t we obey?
It’s uncomfortable. We’re afraid. It doesn’t make sense. We’d rather do it our way because we think our way is better. We find other things to do instead of what we’re being asked to do. Temptation.
How do we obey?
With the grace of God—in faith and trust. We obey because we know He loves us and would never do anything that isn’t ultimately the best for all of His children.