“ ‘If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 1:19-20
The two sat with their noses inches from each other. The younger boy’s hair looked like he just came out from under the couch, which he had. The two were inches from erupting into another argument on how their castle of couch cushions should be built. And with the baby down for a nap, it was time to put an end to their stare-down tactics before war erupted and their pretend swords became real swords.
The following day, when naptime came about, the mother wiped down the ketchup glob and said, “You may not build a castle today, find another quiet game to play until Aubrey wakes up.” Both the four year old and the three year old pouted with the best of the best pouters. A sigh. “If you play nicely and build a castle together, then you may play in the living room. If you start to argue, then playtime is over for today. Your sister needs to sleep well.”
The sister immediately latched on to this concept. Without hesitation, she turned to the brother and said, “See? Mom said you have to obey what I say. We build the fort my way.”
Isaiah is a book that sometimes seems harsh and unloving. However, each warning comes with a firm reason as to why the consequences. God doesn’t lay down the law and call it a day. He explains what are results of doing the right thing and doing the wrong thing. Listening and willfully obeying causes blessing. Rebellion causes swords.
In the story, Mom was sure to explain why arguing would end playtime—Sister needed sleep. Building a fort without arguing would allow future monstrosities in the living room to develop. It’s for the children’s sake that the rules are laid down.
However, I find myself with the same reaction as the elder sister. I take what God has asked and force it into my own ruling. I like to be in control. If there is a blessing, I will rake it’s full worth. I’m not obedient because I want to willingly do God’s desires. I am obedient because I want the blessings; it is my way or no way. My motivation is not willful praise, but of selfishness.
God doesn’t bless me for good works. He blesses loving motivation. He doesn’t want me to obey and then control the blessing so that I get what I want. He wants to bless me because I do things with the proper inspiration. If I choose to do an action for the wrong reason, then the consequences will be dire. The arguing will start, and rebellion leads to the sword.
What acts of obedience is he asking of you? Will you do it willingly, or begrudgingly? Will you tell others to do it for you, or to obey what you want? Take today to focus on what God has for you, and then do it for his sake out of love.