We know about the consequences when we disobey, but sometimes things get worse when we obey. What’s up with that?
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
We’ve all been warned about the consequences of disobedience. Our lives are full of examples, from infancy to old age. Break a promise, pay the price. Break a law, pay the price. Disobey an order, pay the price. Most of us understand the cause and effect of disobedience. Every act brings some kind of pain, and the expectation of pain is often sufficient to prevent our disobedience. On the other hand, obedience brings peace and safety. It keeps us in good standing. It brings God’s blessings and keeps us from pain… or does it?
It’s true that in general, obedience improves our situation, but God’s ways are not our ways. Sometimes obeying Him makes things worse. Micaiah’s truthful answer to the king got him thrown in prison )1 Kings 22:1-28). Zechariah obeyed God in speaking truth to his generation and was rewarded by being stoned to death (2 Chron. 24:20-22). Paul’s obedience got him stoned, beaten, lashed, starved, shipwrecked, snake-bitten and imprisoned. All the apostles were martyred except John, who was exiled to a lonely island. Jesus was the perfect example to total obedience, and look what happened to Him.
The problem is that God’s “rewards” rarely match our expectations. For whatever reason, we assume that our situation is all about us, and that obedience will result in a blessing. This is what happens when we desire God’s blessings more than we desire a closer relationship with Him. If our goal is always to be blessed by God, we will completely miss God’s perspective on our circumstances.
If our desire is for Him more than what He can provide, it will be easier to see things from His perspective. The more time we spend with someone because we want to be with them, the more we understand them and how they think. The same is true in our relationship with God. In some relationships, the situation calls for tough love, and this almost always results in pain.
AS I SEE IT
This brings us to our motivation for our obedience to God. If it’s always to get something in return, we have failed in the first and greatest commandment, to truly love God in every way. On the other hand, if we obey God out of love and respect and a desire to know Him better, we have no expectations that things will always get better. We know that things may actually get worse because we know that God’s goal in my situation is not my happiness and removal from pain.
The Bible is replete with examples of suffering as being part of the package when we submit our lives to Christ. Entering into the fellowship of His suffering is the most basic path to real intimacy with our Lord:
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Phil. 1:29).
I hope this give you a new perspective on obedience and why bad things happen to good people. Our Lord desires simple obedience, regardless of the consequences. Even when things get worse, being in the center of God’s will is still the safest place to be.
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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
Purranoia: the fear that your cat is up to something.
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