It’s not just greed that gets in the way of loving God. It’s also a limited understanding of who God is. C.S. Lewis once said, “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
Loving God means obeying Him.
God wants us to love Him more than we love His promises. Our motivation for obedience to God should be love.
Jesus calls us to obey.
John 14:15, 21 NIV “If you love me, keep my commands. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Psalms 19:7-11 NLT The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them. (emphasis mine)
• Obedience is an act of worship.
Exodus 34:13-14 NIV Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
• God rewards obedience.
Genesis 22:17-18 NIV I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
• Obedience to God proves our love.
1 John 5:3 NIV In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,
• Obedience to God demonstrates faith.
James 2:17 NIVIn the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
• Obedience is better than sacrifice.
1 Samuel 15:22 NIV But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
Obedience Brings Reward (Blessing)
First of all, God’s pleasure at obedience is documented over and over in Scripture.
Psalm 91:14-15 AMPC Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness–trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never]. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
Isaiah 58:13-14 AMPC If you turn away your foot from [traveling unduly on] the Sabbath, from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a [spiritual] delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and honor Him and it, not going your own way or seeking or finding your own pleasure or speaking with your own [idle] words, Then will you delight yourself in the Lord, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage [promised for you] of Jacob your father; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. [Gen. 27:28, 29; 28:13-15.]
However God does not reward hypocritical obedience.
Matthew 15:7-9 AMPC You pretenders (hypocrites)! Admirably and truly did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said: These people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. Uselessly do they worship Me, for they teach as doctrines the commands of men. [Isa. 29:13.]
The Pharisees were obedient to the letter of the law in some respects, but they nullified other parts of the law by their own traditions. They were rebuked because whatever show of obedience they had was motivated by self-righteousness, not love for God. Those who were promised rewards for obedience were rebuked many times because their obedience was not from the heart.
Matthew 23:15, 23, 25, 27, 29 NIV “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.
On the other hand there is reward and blessing in obedience.
Psalms 1:1-4 NIV Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
When we obey we have better experiences and better experiences
produce rewards such as material provision, relational benefits, and mental and emotional health. Those are God’s rewards for people who obey and follow His instruction.
God Does Not Define Reward as We Do.
When we think of God rewarding us for obeying Him, we usually think of tangible, material things, but God has eternity in mind. In fact the Bible and history are filled with examples of people who obeyed the Lord at great cost to themselves. Godly men and women often did not appear to reap any earthly rewards for their obedience, yet many are listed in the Hall of Faith as people whose rewards are in heaven.
Hebrews 11:39-40 NIV These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Obedience to the Word includes obedience to the gospel, and that carries great reward. When we accept God’s offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, we are pronounced righteous in His sight
2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
As part of that salvation, we are promised an eternity in glory with Him.
John 3:16 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
None of salvation’s benefits are a reward for our performance. Forgiveness and heaven are gifts granted to us because of God’s great love.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
However, Jesus does promise many different kinds of rewards in heaven for every deed done in His name on earth.
Mark 9:41 NIV Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
James 1:12 NIV Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Whatever struggles we face on earth in order to obey God’s Word will be overly compensated in eternity with rewards we cannot even imagine.
Romans 8:18 NIV I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Do something for God without expecting any reward or blessing in return.