What motivates you into taking action—the threat of a negative outcome if you don’t do it or the promise of a good outcome if you do? Human nature being what it is, you and I fall into either—or a mix—of those categories. The Israelites were no different.
Deuteronomy 28:1-14 tells how God promised to bless them if they worshiped only Him and carefully obeyed His commands. That approach, He knew, resonated with the men and women who wanted to receive the good outcome—an abundance of crops, fertile herds and flocks, many children, victory over their enemies, and more. They would willingly follow God’s instructions knowing He would provide for them and protect them and their families as a result of living according to His word.
However, Deuteronomy 28:15-62 tells how God promised a negative outcome if the people disobeyed His commands and worshiped other gods. They would suffer disease, defeat at their enemies’ hands, and death for failing to keep His laws. This approach worked for those folks who wanted to avoid pain.
I see this same principle prove true in my ongoing (lifelong) wellness journey: Enjoying the benefits of good health motivates me to exercise regularly and be more intentional about healthy food choices. Seeking to avoid negative outcomes such as heart attacks and strokes also moves me to action.
When it comes to my spiritual life, the same principle proves true. For instance, I’m on the brink of writing my next book. I sense God asking me to fast and pray through the first 40 days of writing. That’s what I’ve done for all my other books as a means of expressing my utter dependence upon His wisdom and creativity, so feeling this nudge once again doesn’t surprise me.
If indeed God is asking me to again fast and pray through the first 40 days of this writing process, then the promise of His presence and power motivates me to obey. So does the threat of a negative outcome for disobedience. In this case, that outcome could be producing a book that’s void of value for its readers. Either approach works for me!
How does this apply to your life today? Is God prompting you to obey in a particular area of your life? What blessings will you receive for doing as He asks? What negative outcome might you experience if you don’t?