(from the Strengthen Your Walk Discipleship Course, Crossroads: Choices for a Better Life)
No parent would reward a child for running away. Instead, that youngster would receive a consequence designed to steer him toward safety.
Likewise, God loved us so much that He created rewards and consequences to guide us securely along His path. And the result of our choices, both positive and negative, often extended far beyond the original recipients.
Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments… (Deuteronomy 7:9).
God Rewards Obedience
The Bible repeatedly demonstrates God’s systems of rewards and consequences. Abraham obeyed God, and God rewarded him with an incredible promise.
In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice. (Genesis 22:18).
Moses initially hesitated to follow God’s instructions, but his subsequent obedience led to millions of Israelites escaping slavery in Egypt. (Exodus 3 and 13).
Hadassah, a young Hebrew woman, obeyed her cousin Mordechai’s instructions. She became Queen Esther, and saved her people from destruction. (Esther 2 and 9).
Disobedience Affects Others
The Bible also relates examples of disobedience that carried far-reaching penalties. Adam and Eve became dissatisfied in the lush, exquisite Garden of Eden. Despite possessing everything they needed, they seized the one thing God told them to avoid.
The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’ (Genesis 2:16-17).
Adam and Eve’s rebellion ushered spiritual and physical death into their once-perfect world. Their disobedience created a heritage of sin for every human.
We may wonder, why weren’t Adam and Eve content? God gave them everything. Proverbs 27:20b reveals one reason: “Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.”
Temptations and Enticements
Just like Adam and Eve, temptations lure us from God’s great design for our lives:
- Relationships with people who hinder our connection with God.
- Striving for riches outside of God’s financial plan.
- Devoting more time to television, social media, or our careers than to our loving Father.
Our Actions Generate Rewards or Consequences
When the floodwaters receded, Noah brought his family out of the ark. He knew they faced a large task, but Noah didn’t race into the busyness of recreating a new world. He first built an altar and worshipped God.
The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.’ (Genesis 8:21).
Noah’s sacrifice, his worship, brought about a protective covenant that still exists today.
When, like Noah, we put the Lord first, our relationship grows deeper. We experience intimacy with Him. God Himself is our greatest reward. And He lavishes us with yet more blessings:
- Our ability to hear Him increases (John 10:27).
- We operate in God’s strength instead of struggling in our own (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
- Our joy overflows (John 15:11).
- We position ourselves to receive God’s provision, peace, and protection (Psalm 23).
God’s Loving Plan
Through Jeremiah 29:11, God reveals His desire for us.
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’
We can be like a runaway child, pursuing our own destructive path, and reaping undesirable consequences. Or we can choose to live God’s way and reap His benefits.
…I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants. (Deuteronomy 30:19).
This article is a part of our Strengthen Your Walk Discipleship Course, Crossroads: Choices for a Better Life
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Jeanie Jacobson’s writing shares hope, humor, and Godly encouragement. You’ll find her work in a variety of venues ranging from Chicken Soup for the Soul books to magazines like Focus on the Family. Learn more at jeaniejacobson.com.