Are Blessings The Reward For Obedience?

Are Blessings the “Reward” of Obedience?

“You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.” Deuteronomy 11:27

There is an undoubtedly a divinely ordained correlation between obedience (one aspect of godliness) and blessing. It is the assumptions about this correlation which get us into trouble. What do I mean? The moment we say to ourselves, “If I do this, then I’ll get this,” or to others, “If you’ll do this, then you’ll get this,” we’ve not only been tripped up, but are trying to bring others down with us.

“But,” you say, “Doesn’t God at times promise that blessings are the reward of obedience?” For example in this notoriously misapplied verse:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” Malachi 3:10 God, in the case of tithing, promises earthly, temporal, and material blessing.

Let’s continue. God promises spiritual, physical, intellectual, financial, social, relational, and eternal rewards for seeking, remembering, and obeying. Yet even these rewards are free from obligation and conceived in grace. God is never obliged to reward.  Or, is He?  Further, any spiritual diligence on our part, any obedience, is itself His gift to us.

Might we have plucked this Old Testament “rewards now for obedience now” concept and tried to root it or misapply  it in the New Testament Era? How so? The focus of OT blessings seemed to have been temporal and physical. The NT focus seems to be spiritual and eternal.  A few examples:

  • “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  Revelation 22:12
  • “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”  Matthew 16:27
  • “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  2 Corinthians 5:10

We’ll consider this more deeply in the second part of this series. For the church now, there appears to be an ideological chasm between reaping what you sow, and seed-faithing, the idea of giving to a need and expecting from God a return on that gift.  A few questions:

 

1. Are indeed, blessings the reward for obedience?

2. Is “doing to get” or “giving to get” biblical?

3. Does our obedience ever obligate God to do anything?

 

 

 

 

0 thoughts on “Are Blessings The Reward For Obedience?

  1. David Woods says:

    This is an extremely good example of why the Bible must be taken as a whole, and not just verse by verse. There are also promises of suffering, persecution and hate in there that must be taken into account as well. Especially seeing that we are living out the NT and not the Old.

    It’s not that those promises aren’t Biblical, they have their place in the big picture, but it’s the big picture that must be looked at, not just the temporary blessing that might come along here and there.

    The biggest thing we need to remember is that God is sovereign, not us, and we need to be willing to take whatever he allows into our life (either the good or the bad) knowing that He knows what’s going on, and can take care of it. We must be willing to do our part, and trust that He is doing His–blessing or no blessing.

    Voice of the Martyrs newsletter is one really good source for keeping Christians grounded in these sorts of things, and I highly recommend it to any who is “working for a blessing”.

    • I agree David – we need to look at the bigger Scriptural picture.

      Jesus made clear on many instances that we are to expect trouble in the world and also expect and even, maybe, desire to give up temporal blessing in return for eternal blessing.

      Yes, God promises blessing for obedience but we should not expect a here and now blessing – even in the OT blessing was often deferred and was not an “instant quick fix” such as modern Western society expects.

      We should also be extremely wary of the Prosperity “gospel” assertion that we can “buy” God’s favour – that is anathema to the very nature of love and the very nature of God – He is Sovereign and if we attempt to “buy” His favour we have fallen far from the Truth and even though He is obliged to keep His promises because of His nature, He is not obliged to pander to our selfish desires even if we dress them up in “Scriptural” clothing.

  2. Jesus Labs says:

    How about the abundance gospel? That fact is that Jesus promised and delivers a life of abundance. I hear people say they never ask God for anything. That seems humble, but simply means they do not see God as their provider.

    We are called to a life that cannot be lived from our own resources and God is our only sufficiency. The blessing is not future tense, but is rather past tense:

    Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”

    Before the cross everything was future. After the cross everything is finished. If we called the power company every time we wanted to microwave popcorn they would think we were crazy. We have the power already and simply need to turn on the microwave. This same principle applies to every provision of God for our lives. We receive what was provided already by faith.

    We are already blessed and living out from the finished work of the cross is a walk faith, thanksgiving, and fullness. We are expected to be so plugged into the outflow of the Kingdom that we are hilarious givers. 2 Corinthians 9 says we are to have so much abundance for every good work that is is hilarious. We can call it getting to give!

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