“Your Father who sees things in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:4, 6:6, 6:18
When you think of the word “consequences” chances are you think of something negative, as in “you will suffer the consequences” of a bad action. This, of course, is indisputably true. Paul wrote, “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). You can tell how far back in my memory this verse goes for I quote it in King James. The verse is not comforting. It’s used by youth ministers to keep kids in line on a retreat. Do bad and you will suffer the consequences.
But not all consequences are bad. The verse(s) I quote at the beginning of this GraceWaves are from the Sermon on the Mount in the section about genuine piety. Jesus addressed three common religious expressions: alms giving, praying, and fasting. After each one He promised that God rewards us if we practice these things inconspicuously. Hence, good consequences.
Life is not terribly complicated, though it is often difficult. If you do certain things, you will feel better. If you pray, read devotional literature, worship, share your life meaningfully with others then life will be better. Cultivating a generous and graceful theology and then engaging people and life in general with a sacred kindness always results in a more joyous life. Always. God rewards.
Think of the good consequences you can expect this week if you embrace this positive faith in God! I’ll suggest three that I have experienced.
- Your security will not rest in possessions or things going your way. Unfortunately we usually define rewards materially. I suppose some of this is true. My health is better when I stay away from unhealthy things. I have more money when I don’t spend to try and make myself feel better. Etc.
The greatest security, however, comes from a “no matter what” outlook. Whether you are abased or abounding you can learn the secret of being content in Christ. Markets will go down, cars will break down, health will fail. Eternal matters are untouched by time or trouble. No matter what comes the King is still in residence. His flag still flies! A sound spiritual program and a focus on helping others will clear your vision.
- Fear will lose its grip on your life. I had a lava lamp when I was a teenager. Turn on the light under the globe and soon the wax heats up and begins to “blob” upward, cool then fall back to the bottom. My fears are like that lava lamp. They keep “blobbing” up.
For me the key has been turning down the internal heat by developing a simpler faith. I confess that my fear basically is a lack of trust in God. When I am afraid I am essentially saying that God is not to be trusted, for He has promised to never forsake me. What more do I need than His presence? In the autumn of my life I am still learning ask God to take my fear from me, and learning to let go of it.
- You can appreciate difficult days. Much of our lives are devoted to avoiding or lessening pain. This is natural. However, life is difficult under the best of circumstances and some days will be very hard. Most of us are so convinced of our uniqueness that we’re at least slightly outraged that everything is not rosy.
God does not expect you to handle your problems alone. In fact, you only complicate things that way. The Bible teaches us that difficulties are an opportunity for God to demonstrate His strength. He’ll handle whatever you let go of, and you let go of it by refusing to obsess over difficulties.
So your Father is watching, and that is a very good thing. Good consequences await you this week, if you simply devote yourself to a few simple thoughts and actions. He will reward you.
Dr. Terry Ellis
November 16, 2014