Do You Revere God For Nothing?

Does our motivation matter in our spiritual journey? If so, then to what extent?
On the one hand, it seems like nothing could be more obvious. Isn’t much of scripture and life showing us the value of doing something not just with our lips, but with our hearts? But on the other hand, it seems like nothing is more filled with interpretive fogginess.

Are motives simply a matter of obedience? Does any action prompted from a desire to be obedient equal pure motives? It seems many of the worst evils have been done “in the name of God” by people seeking to be obedient and devout.

Do motives have to be selfless and disconnected from any expectation of rewards or fear of punishment? It seems that the scriptures are full of incredible promises of the benefits of walking in the way of God, and perilous consequences of wandering from the way of God.

In one of the most famous books of the bible, Job, The Adversary, asks God “Does Job revere God for nothing?” The question feels loaded with accusation and challenge. The implication is that Job has every reason to serve God because it is in his own self-interest in order to guarantee further rewards. Seemingly, one of the oldest understandings of the way “things” work in the world is that of reciprocity. Simply put: do good you’ll get good, do bad you’ll get bad.

As a generality this principle seems dead on. Students who take good notes and study hard tend to perform better on examinations and term papers. Those who skim their readings, surf social media during lectures, and put things off until the last minute tend to do poorly. Yet most of us know the classmate who wrote the paper the morning it was due or didn’t study for the examination only to receive a better grade than us!

The story of Job, with all its back-and-forth dialogue, seems to be wrestling with this cosmic question in a very personal way. “Consider my servant Job.” We do consider him as he wrestles with accusatory friends, failing health, deep loss, and an uncertain future. One of the pressing questions we find emerging again and again is the question on the lips of The Adversary: Does Job revere God for nothing?

As we consider this question, we seldom do it in a vacuum. We remember times the bottom collapsed from underneath us. We remember faithful lives coming to tragic ends. Ultimately, we find the question is not only about Job. This question is intimately about us. So what about you? Do you serve God for nothing?

Do your recent experiences of life feel more like Job’s blessed beginning or Job’s challenging aftermath?

What are the challenges of living in harmony with God during good times? What are the challenges of living in harmony with God during difficult times?

How would you want friends and family to be present to you during especially challenging times?

What are ways you receive encouragement to draw near to God during suffering?

What are ways we fall into a cause-and-effect relationship with our spiritual faithfulness and a good life?

How can we form spiritually to be strengthened for times of challenge?