Why Does God Incentivize Obedience
Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
Notice how it doesn’t say “obey God because that’s the way He wants it, and He commands it, so do it”. Rather, God has intentionally disclosed incentives for obedience. He says “follow them SO THAT you may live…” Why would God do that? God would have been perfectly righteous if He had just laid down commandments with no explanation as to why we should obey them other than “because I said so”. I think that God revealing the incentives for obedience is not so that we could seek the reward, but rather that we would see the Fatherly love behind His commands. It is a reminder that we can trust God knowing that His commands are rooted in love.
When perceiving God’s commands we have two ways we can err:
1) Think of them as burdensome rules designed to rob us of all joy
2) Think of them as a checklist to follow in order to get a prize
I submit a third way of perceiving God’s commands, which I believe is more biblical. Think of them as God’s way of protecting His children from that which would harm them. See God’s commands as a Father’s loving instruction and tender warnings. Obey them, trusting that your Father is looking out for your best interest.
Heavenly Father, help me see your commandments for the purpose behind them. You are the God who commands, yet you command for my benefit. I thank you that I can say along with the psalmist that “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches”. In Jesus’ Name I pray, AMEN!