Sometimes we latch on to God’s commands to us to obey Him (i.e.: practicing chastity, not using drugs, not being addicted to alcohol, not lying/cheating/gossiping, loving others, giving to the poor, tithing, practicing honesty, being moral people, going to church, praying and reading our Bibles) and we assume that if we do these things, then, “God owes us,” as if it is a business transaction. “I do this for God, then He gives me what I ‘paid for’ – a godly husband, happiness, ‘feeling loved by a man,’ romance, a beautiful home, plenty of money, health, a life of comfort and ease and biological children.” We may think, maybe subconsciously, that we can manipulate God to do what we want Him to do or that we can force Him to do our will and submit to us.
We may think we are entitled to be in control if we obey God outwardly in certain ways.
There are many promises of various kinds in Scripture.
1. Some of God’s promises are unconditional:
The promise God made to never destroy the earth again by a flood was an unconditional promise of God for all mankind that does not depend on us whatsoever. Genesis 9:13.
2. Some of God’s promises are conditional. We must fulfill God’s requirements in order to receive that promise – these promises often begin with “if” and conclude with a “then”:
– If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14
– If we confess our sins, (then) he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9
– So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, (then) you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit (from PW – this is a promise of God that we will have these things if we allow His Spirit to fill us and be in control) is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24
3. Some things in Scripture are principles, not promises. They are not guarantees of a particular outcome. And some of these principles are commands that God gives us that He requires us to obey regardless of the outcome in this lifetime.
When we obey God and live in sexual/mental purity, repent of sin, seek to be humble, seek to be honest, make sure we are not abusing drugs/alcohol, seek to honor our parents/boss/government, spend time in His Word, pray, go to church, seek to love others and seek to obey Him in every area, He does not guarantee us earthly rewards. I know of no promise that if a Christian woman does X, Y and Z…
- God is obligated to give her a godly husband
- God has to make sure she is married by age 35
- God must provide her and her husband a problem-free, perfect, always amazing sex life
- God must provide biological children
- God must cause this woman to always feel happy, loved and fulfilled in her marriage all the time
- God must provide a romantic relationship with a particular man for her
- she will always feel happy
- she will have no problems in this lifetime
When we obey God, we show that we honor and love Him as LORD. We also allow His power to flood our lives. He will reward us for our obedience in heaven when He judges what we have built here on earth in His kingdom.
My purpose is to bring honor and glory to God now, as a believer in Christ. Not to get all the things I want for myself. God may choose to give me a godly husband and He may give me children in His timing according to His will for me. But, I am not guaranteed these things.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. II Corinthians 3:10-15
Sometimes, commands do have promises attached.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1-3
Sometimes commands are just given by themselves without any specific promise attached to our obedience. He is Lord. He knows best. He has all wisdom. We do not. He knows what is right and what is sinful. God is revealing biblical principles to us for how life works best and how He might be most glorified in our lives. But this is not a guarantee that IF I obey God’s commands, THEN I will definitely have a boyfriend/husband/health/money/children/romance/continual happiness. My job is to obey God and then I trust Him with the results.
How I long for us to guard our hearts against testing God, making demands that He fulfill our desires the way we want Him to before we are willing to trust Him. May we never do this!
God will change ME as I seek Him with all my heart. That is a guarantee. That is the process of sanctification. But I must leave my future in God’s hands, trusting Him to work in his life for His will and His glory, praying for God’s greatest purposes to be accomplished in his life.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30
I am able to be content in whatever circumstances I may find myself because I have Christ. He is the key. Not my situation. I can be overflowing with the love, joy, peace and abundant life of Christ and the power of His Spirit even in very trying, difficult circumstances. Even if I remain unmarried. Even if I don’t see my dreams fulfilled. Even if I get married but my husband does not meet my needs and I am emotionally hungry. Even if I get married but my husband is unfaithful. Even if I get married but I am widowed at an early age. Even if I am unable to have children.
Jesus is more than enough. He is sufficient for me.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
If my motives are, “God, I will obey you IF you give me what I really want,” then I am asking with wrong and selfish motives (James 4:1-10) and I should not think that I will receive what I am asking from the Lord in that case.
God does not owe me anything.
He gave me salvation through Christ, when I deserved condemnation and hell, which is more than enough cause for me to praise, thank, love and serve Him every moment of the rest of my life even if He gave me nothing else! God does give me certain unconditional promises that I can trust and cling to. He also gives me conditional promises and I am welcome to fulfill my part of the conditions, then I can trust Him to fulfill His promises in His wisdom and His timing.
But when it comes to my obedience to Him as Lord, He does not owe me anything for my obedience to Him. Jesus describes proper, humble attitude for me to have as God’s servant in Luke 17:
“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ” Luke 17:7-10
My motives in obeying God must be simply, “I love God. He is my Lord. I long to please Him more than anything in this world. I am fully available to You. I am Yours. Use me however You will for Your glory.”
Yes, I will receive rewards in heaven for my obedience. But I may experience difficulties, suffering, persecution and trials here on this earth (James 1, I Peter, Job, Daniel, the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-46). Some people will hate me because I love Jesus, possibly even my family members. I may or may not find a godly husband in this lifetime. I may or may not have children. Jesus calls me to die to my own will, my desires, my dreams, my expectations, my purposes, my plans and my self. Then I live only for His will, His desires, His dreams, His plans, His purposes and His greatest glory and that can be more than enough for me.
– “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” John 14:23-24
– “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:37-42
–Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 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 they have done.” Matthew 16:24-27
How I pray You might expose any sinful, selfish or hidden motives in our hearts by the power of Your Word. Convict us of any sinful thoughts. Empower us to turn from our selfishness and let us seek to love, honor and obey You just because we love You and want to please You more than anything. Refine our faith and purify our motives. Make our lives honoring, holy and pleasing in Your sight.
We trust the details of our future to You, Lord. We do not seek to obey You so that we can have our will. Let Your will be done. Let Your Name be glorified in our lives. Draw us to Yourself. Let each of us know You deeply and experience the spiritual abundant Life You offer to each of us.
In the Name and power of Christ,