We do not serve a reactive God. It is certainly true, an abiding truth, that the most fundamental covenant between God and man is this- obey Me and be blessed; disobey Me and be cursed. Praise the glory of His name there is an addendum- if you trust in the finished work of Christ, He will be cursed for your disobedience and you will be blessed for His obedience. That obedience leads to blessing, however, doesn’t mean that God is sitting on His throne with a box full of roses on His right and a box full of thunderbolts on His left. He is not watching to see what you will do, and reaching into the box appropriate for your choices. The cursings for disobedience are organic, connected to the sin itself. In like manner, the blessings of obedience inhere in the obedience.
Consider what happens when we live for ourselves. We, because we are sinners, think if we will pursue our own pleasure, our own desires, our own reputation, our own wealth, that we will naturally acquire them. When we end up disappointed we think God interfered, that He snatched up our hard earned roses and hurled thunderbolts at us. Having learned our lesson we seek to be more giving, more focused on others, we think then that God spared us the agony that such a life would naturally bring, and kindly dropped roses our way.
The truth is that we are naturally designed for things to work unnaturally. We gain our life when we lose it precisely because that is how our lives are gained. We were made for others, and our joy is found in service. We find ourselves when we lose ourselves. More is drinking from the ocean. Less is drinking our tears of joy in satisfaction.
When I am feeding or changing or carrying my profoundly disabled 13 year old daughter I don’t receive roses from heaven. I receive instead something far more precious- smiles from my little girl. Her eyes crinkle together and sparkle, and every now and then she lets out a little laugh. I see in her eyes not only her trust in me, but her delight. She, because such is her redeemed nature, is serving me. I, by the grace of God, am serving her. We together drink in the gospel.
She in turn shames me. If she, whose father is such a miserable sinner, who is weak and selfish, looks at me like that, why don’t I look to my Father in heaven with even greater trust and joy? The good news, however, is the good news. Despite my failures, my weaknesses, my frailties, despite the very sin that keeps me from looking to Him in that way, in her eyes I see His. Though He knows my sin more than she does, more than I do He looks at me with the same delight that she does. He smiles. His eyes crinkle together and He laughs. My daughter loves me because my Father loves me. I love my daughter because my Father loves me. And when we love each other, there He is in the midst of us.