Is There Any Reason To Obey God When Obedience Won’t Change An Undesirable Outcome?

Is there any reason to obey God when your obedience won’t change an undesirable outcome into a more desirable one? What if God told you, “Nothing you do, no obedience of any kind will change an undesirable outcome into a more desirable outcome?” Would you still do right? Well, that is exactly what happened to Josiah in 2 Kings 22:16, 17. The prophetess Huldah told him that disaster would come no matter what. Yet, Josiah continued with the most extensive reforms Judah had ever known (2 Kings 23:1-25). Verse 25 says: Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

Yet, the next verse states: Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger.

Josiah does right, and nothing changes. So why would anyone serve a God like that? Maybe because they love him for who he is and what he has already done in history past. Maybe because the Spirit of God has put in their heart a desire to see God pleased in spite of the outcome. If you are obedient for what you can get out of it, then ultimately you are not being obedient because you love and worship a God who is totally worthy of your worship. What you are trying to do is manipulate God into doing what you want him to do. You are not interested in obedience, you are interested in yourself, you are at the center of your universe, and you are hoping, praying that God would give you your selfish desires by means of a divine bargain. “I’ll obey you God, IF you bless me.” People like that fail to see that the blessing is in the doing, the satisfaction of knowing their creator is pleased with their behavior.

I confess that to one who isn’t born again, and probably too many who would claim to be, all of this seems like nonsense. Yet along with the Psalmist, the believer can say, “You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing,” Psalm 16:2

Do you love the gifts or the giver? The blessings or the blesser? The creator or the creation? Sometimes God will take away his gifts, his rewards, his response to your “desired outcome” for your obedience to remind you that it isn’t about the gifts, it is about enjoying the giver. On occasion, God removes the blessings so you can be prompted to delight in the blesser himself. The creator will sometimes spoil the pleasures of his creation for his children so that they won’t become ignorant idol worshippers and live like pagans who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator,” Romans 1:25.

So if life is difficult for you, if it seems like you have been obedient with no result, remember that you are thinking like an unbeliever. Ask God to help you enjoy him and find joy as you gain a right perspective on himself. See also Psalm 73.

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