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Delightful obedience

“If you obey the commands of the LORD your God and walk in his ways, the LORD will establish you as his holy people as he solemnly promised to do. Then all the nations of the world will see that you are a people claimed by the LORD, and they will stand in awe of you.” — Deuteronomy 28:9-10

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” That is the strong conviction of many: “If you want anything you’ve got to earn it!”

It would appear that the Lord was saying this to His people—that the best way to get what they wanted was to be good and then God would reward them. After all, He did say, “You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:2). This way of looking at things falls neatly into line with the all-too-common perception that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”—the perception that God’s blessing has to be earned. But that is not the meaning of this Scripture.

All Scripture must be read in context and in harmony with other Scriptures. The context of all the Mosaic legislation was the covenant. The covenant was a divine initiative by which God freely offered to undeserving people blessings they could never merit and most certainly never earn. He did this out of pure love and sovereign grace. Israel was required to respond to God’s “amazing grace” in humble trust and then, out of gratitude, to live a life of loving obedience. Grace would lead to faith demonstrated in obedience.

The same principle applies to us today and is clearly spelled out in the New Testament. Paul told the Ephesians, “God saved you by his special favor when you believed … Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done … He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:8-10). Obedience, both for the ancient Israelites and for us, is not the means whereby we merit blessing. It is the evidence that we are grateful for blessings received.

Obedience motivated by gratitude is warm, ungrudging, wholehearted. Obedience born of necessity is often reluctant, truculent, and calculating. Sadly, even the recipients of grace can slip into the attitude of those who are strangers to such mercy. They then become candidates for discipline and censure. But the goal is always that they rediscover the undeserved benefits of grace and the unlimited blessings of obedience.

There is no joy for God, or us, in an attitude that says, “I’ll do it if I must,” or “I’ll do this if you will do that.” But there is joy in saying, “I’ll do this, Lord, because you have done so much for me. I’m grateful, and I know this brings you delight. Thank you. I love you.”

Many find obedience a drag, but the godly find doing what God asks a delight!

For further study: Deuteronomy 28:1-24

Content taken from The One Year Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.