The Forgotten Christian Virtue

John D. Barry

2 Chronicles 17:1–18:34; Titus 3:8–11; Psalm 99:1–100:5

An unfortunate effect of our emphasis on God’s grace is our dwindling focus on the connection between obeying God’s will and receiving His blessings. If we’re not living in the primary will God designed for us, then we will not be in the right place at the right time to do His work. And if we don’t show up in the right moments (as designed by God), we won’t be in a position to receive the glorious blessings of the good works He intended for us.

We see the kind of obedience God requires of us in the beginning of King Jehoshaphat’s life. He is quick to align himself with God’s will and, as a result, God is quick to bless him (2 Chr 17:1–6). God extends blessings appropriate for a king—the right people to protect him and offer him guidance, as well as wealth and honor (2 Chr 17:12–19; 18:1). Based on this understanding of God’s desire to bless our obedience, Paul later encourages Titus to tell other believers to “be careful to engage in good deeds … [for they are] beneficial to people … [and] to avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and contentions and quarrels about the law, for they are useless and fruitless” (Titus 3:8–9).

Although the Law (Genesis—Deuteronomy) is no longer the reigning force in our lives, God still requires obedience. When we’re obedient, we’re in God’s will, and when we’re in God’s will, we experience even more of His blessings. We realize what it means to be made in His image—to live as He intended us to live.

It’s easy to take this connection too far, wrongly suggesting that people who seem blessed must be in God’s will or that wealth is a result of following God. This is rarely the case. King Jehoshaphat is a unique example of divine blessing, and the blessings he received aligned with his needs as the leader of God’s people. God’s blessings are usually far less tangible—they can be things like joy in Christ, a sense of peace that comes from being in His will, or the incredible feeling that comes from being involved when someone comes to believe in Christ or know Him more deeply. God’s blessings cannot be earned. They are experiences He gives us, often without merit.

We can never be obedient enough to earn the goodness God bestows on us. But obedience puts us in the right place at the right time for experiencing God’s work. Every moment is a chance to be closer to Him, and obedience is our roadmap for the journey.

How can you invite God and other believers to help you with obedience? What is one thing you can change (or work on changing) this week?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.