Rewards for Foolishness
God will not reward foolishness.
No good father does.
We’ve all seen the scenario of a child acting up in the store and to assuage him the parent lets him have some M&Ms from the check out stand. What does that teach the child? Act up and get rewarded! Thus, the cycle begins. Can you imagine if God did that with us?
A more knowledgeable parent or perhaps a more patient one doesn’t encourage bad behavior and neither does God. God won’t reward us for our foolishness, but for our obedience. Our foolishness hurts us and others so God won’t reinforce it. Instead, we experience the discomforts of our actions instead of reward. Yet, because of His mercy, God keeps us from the full onslaught of the consequences we’ve manifested. He allows as much discomfort as we need to get our attention for the areas He wants to address in our lives. Psalm 107:17, Psalm 119:71
The discomforts (like physical aliments, trying situations or relationships, physical hardships) are to get us to seek. When all is good, we don’t ask. It’s when things go wrong that we start looking for answers. Our discomforts are often a sign we are somehow out of line with God and His will for us.
We chose to be either rebellious children living in a world of affliction because we are not heeding His Word and instruction in our lives. Or to be children who seek to walk in accordance with God’s will because it’s a path of truth, freedom, and love. Obedience is our wills coming in line with God’s so that we start living in the fullness of abundant life He desires for us. As our wills align, we gain unity with God. We live as one with Him in truth, love and purpose. Proverbs 13
Obedience isn’t about forgiveness. We are already forgiven now and always in Christ.
Obedience isn’t about being “good”. No one is good but God. Obeying God’s commands is about walking in God’s will. The moment we focus on trying to be a good person, we act according to our expectations and assumptions about what good means. Because we think we know what good is, we cease to seek God’s will in all things. Instead, we are following our definition of good thus our will, which is limited and often different than God’s. The essence of religion is people trying to be good, according their definitions. It’s easier to follow a set of rules verses seeking and listening to know God’s will day to day, but following rules doesn’t bring abundant life – drawing near to God does. True Christianity is about being in unity with God’s will. Big difference. Obedience is about the heart. If you are in line with God’s will in your heart, the right actions will follow.
Obedience isn’t about US taking control and making things right. It’s about God working in us. For Him to work, we have to submit. For a doctor to do surgery we have to submit to his work. We can’t be running around the hospital. Once we know God’s will for us in a situation, then our focus changes from moving forward our way to His. Part of our submission comes through prayer. Our prayers start to align to His will, and that is when our prayers become powerful. John 15:7
When I have a discomfort like an affliction in my spirit or a physical aliment, I seek. I seek God’s instruction and He opens my eyes to see my error. God doesn’t want us in affliction. He rewards a seeking heart with enlightenment and truth. Usually, it’s something I’ve justified to such an extent that I don’t see it as going against God’s will. But as I seek because of the rising discomfort, the Spirit points it out so clearly that I can’t deny my error. As a child of God, I desire to walk in God’s way. So upon knowing my error, my heart is moved to walk in His truth.
Though I desire to walk in God’s will, it can be hard to obey. We do what we do for a reason; approval, fear, self-protection, or lack of trust. So God also has to deal with this aspect of our rebellion as well. He has to go the source of why we do what we do, not just the outward actions. If you don’t fix the source nothing is fixed. Thus, obedience is a process. It’s a deep work of the heart and that takes time.
Because it’s about the heart, and it’s God who changes our heart, our part is to seek God’s work in us. Our role is to be willing to submit our will to God. To lay down on the surgeons table; to take the small steps of obedience as He leads us; and to pray in line with His will. Because a changed heart isn’t easy, we will never be more dependent upon Him, His strength and mercy. We have to depend on God to carry us through. We have to depend because it’s His work, not ours.
One area for many of us is a change in heart toward another. Can we just change our heart? Have you tried? I find I can’t in my own strength, but I’m not meant to either. My duty is to come to God and desire to submit and pray. I pray before each encounter with that person. I pray for a new perspective about them. I pray for God’s love to abound in me. And above all I trust in His work in me and His grace to carry me through.
Obedience is a process – an affliction or discomfort happens, we seek to understand, the Spirit reveals our error, we submit to God’s will, we pray according to that will, God works through our issues that cause such actions, and we start walking in His will. It’s a journey, but it’s the path to life. I’ve walked through this process in enough areas in my life to know it truly does lead to a more fulfilling, freeing, and loving existence.
Don’t ignore the discomforts or explain them away or think that is just life – seek. Deeply seek and listen as you spend time in God’s Word and prayer. Let God peel back the layers of your soul to expose the truth of your heart and actions because only then can your will start to align with His. As your will aligns with God it begins a sequence of events to bring on a change that will move you out of the discomfort and into the reward. Hebrews 11:6