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Does Obeying God Pay Dividends?

by Chet R. Echelbarger

The world is becoming increasingly violent and lawless. Lawlessness does not mean there are fewer laws, but that there is less obedience to existing laws. The drive to acquire physical possessions has changed people’s attitudes toward the purpose of laws, whether God’s or man’s. The majority of people do not view laws as a means to govern conduct for the benefit of all. Rather, laws are seen as obstacles that prevent one from achieving or acquiring what he desires. Therefore, most attempt to navigate around, or blatantly ignore, them. The only downside people see to breaking laws is the possibility of being caught.

What about the commands of God? Most do not believe it is necessary to obey a God they cannot see. But what we think is not always reality. We must ask: Are there consequences for disobeying God? Are there definite blessings for obedience?

Your youth is a time to enjoy life. But it is also a crucial time to consider what path your life will take. Will the course you choose ultimately lead to unhappiness, frustration and disappointment? Or will it lead to a happy and productive life, both now and in the future? Your future success and happiness depends on the choices you make in your teen years.

(1) How do we know that what we think does not always represent reality? Proverbs 14:12. God’s Word is so emphatic that this is repeated in Proverbs 16:25.

The conclusions we draw from our own thoughts should not be the criterion for determining what is right or wrong.

(2) Does God derive pleasure from punishing disobedience? Is He ready to immediately punish us for our transgressions? Ezekiel 33:11.

God gives sinners time to repent, and this is occurring today. However, time to repent will not continue for much longer because the age is coming to a close.

(3) How did the apostle Paul describe this present world? II Timothy 3:1-4.

More than 1,900 years ago, today’s perilous, lawless, pleasure-seeking society was prophesied to arrive. Take a look at the slums, decay, sorrow, anguish, disease, crime and moral decline of today’s world. People of all ages, especially in the West, seek temporary and fleeting pleasures that do not result in lasting happiness. In many cases, their choices damage their bodies and destroy their lives. Over the years, millions of people have suffered and died from the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol, drugs and other deviant behaviors, including illicit sex. In more recent times, practices such as “huffing” harmful substances to achieve a “high” have become commonplace.

(4) Can one expect consequences from such short periods of “pleasure”? Will there be a price to pay later? Galatians 6:7-8.

Don’t be fooled! Many think that just because they experience no immediate consequences that none will occur. The choices you make today will determine tomorrow’s effects. Will those choices produce happiness and success? Or will they lead to frustration, sorrow and regret—either immediately or in the years to come?

(5) Will God hold us accountable for how we seek pleasure and enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 11:9-10. What advice is given to young people? Ecclesiastes 12:1. King Solomon possessed great wisdom and understanding. How was he able to acquire such wisdom? I Kings 3:5-13; 4:29-31. Notice how Solomon acknowledges in verse 7 that he does not “know how to go out or come in.”

There is nothing wrong with young people wanting to have fun and enjoy themselves. God wants young people to enjoy life, but within the boundaries He prescribes to ensure true happiness. Notice what David said in Psalm 16:11.

Most in their youth feel they understand life, but this is hardly the case. Even in the very basic areas, people of all ages need to look to God for guidance (Prov. 3:6). People who do not acknowledge their Creator have no incentive to obey His words or seek His wisdom. Also they tend to be unthankful for their existence and the material things they enjoy.

(6) Are there benefits from God for those who remember Him and strive to please Him? Proverbs 3:1-5. What kind of blessings can one who looks to God and strives to obey His laws expect? Psalms 34:7-10; 112:1-3; 119:2; I John 3:22. Can we expect the desires of our heart to be granted as long as they are beneficial and good for us? Psalms 37:3-4.

God desires that we live a happy, prosperous and healthful life, a life that includes longevity, success and fulfillment. In addition, He promises special protection to those who seek to do His will and keep His Commandments!

(7) Does the Bible contain examples that were recorded to show the end results of obedience and disobedience to God? I Corinthians 10:6, 11. Are these scriptures intended to teach us lessons? II Timothy 3:16. Will we learn those lessons by simply reading and acknowledging what is written? James 1:22.

(8) God presented the Israelites with two ways of life. One would result in blessings; the other would result in punishment. What were the blessings that would come from obedience? Leviticus 26:3-13. What kind of punishment would disobedience bring? Leviticus 26:14-20. Were the Israelites offered to choose which way of life they would pursue? Deuteronomy 11:26-28; 30:19-20.

You have this same choice. You can live your life in obedience to God and reap blessings, or you can choose the path of disobedience and suffer troubles and unhappiness. God admonished, actually commanded, the people of ancient Israel to choose blessings that result from obedience. But they instead chose to disobey God. This resulted in much suffering, national calamity and eventually captivity, just as God had warned. This is a direct result of their being caught up in conceit, and their choice to follow their own ways, rather than obeying God.

(9) What specific warning did God give Adam and Eve? Genesis 2:16-17. You would think that the consequence for disobedience—death!—would deter one from traveling in that direction. But did it? Genesis 3:6. Obviously, Adam and Eve did not truly believe God. Notice how their disobedience impacted their lives. Genesis 3:16-19, 23-24.

Not only were Adam and Eve driven out of the Garden of Eden, but their lives became difficult, burdensome and laced with troubles and sorrow. Subsequent verses reveal that their son Abel became a victim of the first murder, perpetrated by his own brother Cain (Gen. 4:8). What a tragic price to pay for making the wrong choice of disobedience! In the end, was God right? Are Adam and Eve alive today?

(10) Now let’s consider some individuals who made the right choice. Abraham was immensely blessed by God. Was there a reason for those blessings? Genesis 22:15-18; 26:3-5. Verse 5 sums up the reason for God blessing Abraham. Unlike Adam and Eve, Abraham obeyed God’s commandments, statutes and laws. Did Abraham also teach his son Isaac to obey them as well? Genesis 18:19.

Because of Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience, God blessed Abraham with prosperity and promised his descendants ascending to national greatness.

(11) There were others in the Bible who chose to obey God early in their lives and reaped benefits of doing so. Look at David, who later became king of Israel. Did he begin to obey God at an early age? Psalm 71:17. How did he feel about the Law of God? Psalm 119:97. Why did he feel that way? Verses 98-100. Later David was chosen by God to replace Saul as king of Israel. Why did God select David for that job? Acts 13:21-22.

Because David meditated on God’s laws and applied them to his life, he reaped the blessings of God. This in turn caused him to respect and love God’s Commandments. Even though David made some mistakes, his overall direction in life was to obey and serve God.

(12) Did David’s attitude toward God’s Law begin to change when he became older? Psalms 119:60, 101-105. Actually, God’s laws became more entrenched in his mind. Notice verse 102. What will David’s position be in the World to Come? I Chronicles 28:4; Ezekiel 37:24-25. Was King David so convinced about obeying the commandments of God that he also instructed his son Solomon to do the same? I Kings 2:1-3. Notice the last statement in verse 3.

David was completely convinced by his life experiences that obeying God brought many benefits.

(13) Daniel and his three friends were taken captive to Babylon and served under King Nebuchadnezzar. They soon rose to positions of authority and responsibility. Was this because they obeyed and trusted in God? Read Daniel 1, particularly verses 19-20. Also look at Daniel 2:48-49. Did God protect them from harm? Daniel 3:14-28, 6:16-23.

Sometimes obeying God can seem like paddling upstream. It goes against what everyone else is doing. We may suffer persecution, and there may even be the threat of unfavorable consequences. But if we trust God and obey Him, He can work out any situation as He did in the case of these four young men. Obeying God is far more important than any negative consequences that might result from it.

(14) Much is said about Jesus Christ being our Lord and Master. But is He truly our Master if we do not do what He commands? Luke 6:46. Did He set an example of keeping the commandments of God? John 15:10. Did Jesus Christ explicitly teach that we are to obey the Ten Commandments? Matthew 19:16-19. Would His views ever change on such important matters? Hebrews 13:8. Did Christ have our best interests in mind when He set an example of how to live? John 10:10. Also look at the last part of III John verse 2.

Stop and meditate on how much of a vast difference it would make in the world if everyone were diligently obeying the Ten Commandments. Imagine living in a world free from war, crime, violence, broken families, disrespect for authority, lying, stealing and cheating. It would be a world totally different from today!

(15) What was the conclusion of King Solomon concerning man’s duty, whether young or old? Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

There are no limitations or exclusions of blessings from God regarding one’s age. Whether we are as old as the patriarch Abraham or as young as King Josiah, the benefits of obeying God pay huge dividends. God wants you to reap the benefits of obeying Him and living His way of life. Why not start now at a young age? Not only will you receive those blessings in this world, but you will be building the lasting character needed to teach this way of life as a standard in the world to come.