By Jack Glover
Why do we need to obey commandments from God? Most importantly, because God, as creator of heaven and earth, has the right to require certain things of His creation. In spite of our attitude toward God, no man has the right to question His authority over His creation (Rom. 9:20-21).
But even though He has the right to issue commands, and punish those who disobey them, God still provides incentives for obedience. The following list provides some of them.
- “So that you may have success wherever you go” (Josh. 1:8): After Moses’ death, God commanded Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel” (1:2). He further said in verse 8, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” Joshua was responsible for leading Israel in the conquest of Canaan, but success was an incentive for obedience. Would he have been successful if he had not followed the law? We all want to be successful in life. If your conquests seem to be failing, you may need to check your obedience to God’s law, the New Testament. False service brings no reward (Matt. 7:21).
- The goodness of God: The Jews were God’s chosen people and felt above the Gentiles because of that knowledge. They routinely judged the Gentiles as being sinners when they were guilty of the same sins. God had shown his mercy and goodness many times to Israel, yet they never seemed to learn the lesson “that the kindness of God leads you to repentance”? (Rom. 2:4) God’s continual goodness, forbearance and longsuffering was an incentive for them to obey His commands, but their pride ruled and all they could see were the faults of the other nations, not their own. Four times in Psalms 107, it is said: “Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, and for His wonders to the sons of men!” The goodness of God should be an incentive for our nation (people) to obey Him, for no one has been blessed more than we have, yet like Israel we seem to think this goodness will continue in spite of our resistance to His commands. Paul’s answer to Israel’s attitude was this: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:5-6). I suspect if we do not recognize his goodness and repent of our evil the same fate will await us.
- “So that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6:3): God has always demanded that children honor their parents. A similar statement to the quote above can be found in Deut. 5:16. Obviously God places a great importance on family. The Bible contains instructions for all members of the family, specifying individual obligations for each member. Even the church is often likened to a family, being used as an illustration for certain teachings. Yes, we should naturally love our parents, but an incentive also is supplied to encourage us. That incentive is being well and living long on the earth. We know that a happy family life, where children respect and honor their parents and where other commandments concerning family are obeyed, has its rewards. Fighting families bring no happiness. “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke,” and “a wise son makes a father glad, but a foolish man despises his mother” (Prov. 13:1, 15:20).
God offers us rewards for our obedience. We do not deserve them, nor have we earned anything. We have many incentives to encourage obedience, but if we ignore them and go our own way, punishment will certainly follow.