I remember, when growing up, I often had to be bribed or reprimanded by my parents to find a motive to obey them. Whether it was doing chores in the house so that I could enjoy time with my friends or if it was spending time studying and finishing homework assignments so that I could play video games or have computer privileges, I always had to see how what they told me to do benefited me before I could find motivation to do it. We may think to ourselves that that is the mindset of a child and it takes that type of reward-based encouragement or discipline for them to listen and get things done. That is true in the case of children because they don’t have the maturity to understand the repercussions later in life of not having the discipline to do house hold chores in a timely manner and the loss in education or the career world of being unable to learn or study in their early years. It is too big of a picture for their limited understanding.
The problem occurs when we take those same principles and apply them to our spiritual lives. How often do we have to be disciplined or even reminded with rewards for us to do the will of our heavenly Father? Do we need to be constantly reminded of the earthly consequences we will face for not following His commandments or do we have to be repeatedly encouraged with the crowns we receive if we serve Him faithfully? Why does there seems to always be a conditional agreement for us to do what we should already be doing? We see a good example of that in 2 Chronicles through the life of Solomon:
He said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no god like You in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing loving kindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart; who has kept with Your servant David, my father, that which You have promised him; indeed You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand, as it is this day. Now therefore, O Lord, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David, my father, that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way, to walk in My law as you have walked before Me.’ | 2 Chronicles 6:14-21
Through the Old Testament we see many conditional agreements made between God and His people based on obedience and fulfillment of promises. The verses shown above are exactly one of those instances. God makes a promise to David and his son, Solomon, that if he and his following generations keep God’s commandments and follow Him whole heartedly, He will bless them with a family line that will rule Israel and none of their surrounding enemies will capture them. We know from Solomon’s life that this doesn’t play out because of his disobedience. Solomon becomes subject to many of his wives’ wishes and turns away from God’s commandments though he was the wisest man to have ever lived. We know from Solomon’s life that he loses the kingdom in his son’s generation and even when it is returned, it is no longer in his family line.
The lesson that we can pull from this is the value of obedience and following God’s word. We don’t have agreements that we make with God that are the foundation of our relationship with Him. We should be able to obey Him out of love for our Savior because of the salvation He has so graciously given to us. God knows that we are not perfect people and that we slip up many times in life, but through each of those instances we are expected to come back to Him. We are never intended to live sinful lives knowing that God is merciful and will forgive our sins. Rather, we should have that desire and passion to live for and love the Lord while falling back on His grace when we do happen to mess up. We need to ask ourselves this question: How much do we love our Lord and what drives our motive to obey or disobey?
Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. | 1 Samuel 15:22