Monday, October 17, 2016

Expecting a Reward

“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land. I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.”  –Leviticus 26: 3-6

Lexi’s trainer told us that we should begin to wean Lexi off treats as she mastered the commands we were teaching her. Instead of giving her a treat we would praise her (“Good girl!”) and maybe scratch her head. This didn’t work well for us. Lexi expected treats. She pestered us for her treat when she knew she deserved it. She couldn’t focus on our next command until she’d been rewarded for following the first. It took her a very long time—years—to follow a command without expecting a reward. Do we expect a reward for following God’s commands? Scripture seems to promise as much. God blesses the righteous. On the other hand, Leviticus 22:31 says simply, “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord.” There are no rewards offered here. Here it’s implied that we should obey God because, well, he’s God—wise, just, righteous, good. If we always expect treats for doing the right thing, we’ll probably be disappointed. If we pester God for a reward when we think we deserve it, we’ll probably be let down. God’s blessings don’t work like that. Yet we are blessed when we obey God’s commands. Lexi gets longer walks when she’s obedient; we walk more closely with God.

Dear God, Teach me not to expect rewards for following your commands but to be grateful for your blessings. Amen

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