Reward Or Punishment? (Amos 4:6-8)

Psychologists have debated what is a better motivator of human behavior-reward or punishment? Although some studies suggest that reward is a better motivator, the debate continues. In my life, I respond to both but certainly prefer being rewarded. I thought that most people would also agree but the Bible clearly puts this in its proper perspective.


“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord. “I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither; so two or three cities would wander to another city to drink water, and would not be satisfied; yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.

Amos 4:6-8 (ESV)


Whether God blessed the Israelites with riches or allowed calamity to afflict them, they were still stubborn and did not repent from their sins and return to God. It seems that neither reward nor punishment was sufficient to change their behavior.


It is easy for me to sit in judgment and shake my head at the deplorable behavior of the Israelites, but am I any different? How many times has God blessed my life and I failed to acknowledge His blessings? How many times has God allowed pain or suffering in my life to change me for the better but during the ordeal, I clenched my fists in rage and anger against Him? My selective recall of events persuades me to think I only respond to rewards but the reality is far different.


What hope do I have? Do I flounder in a needless cycle of reward and punishment, lurching from one event to another, or am I willing to surrender my will to God and allow Him to lead  me? When I do, I understand that God works all things together in my life for His good because He has called me into a loving relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and Savior and this means that He has given me eternal life. When I submit my life to God, regardless of the circumstances of life, there are only everlasting rewards!


Yes, I do respond better to rewards, when God is the bestower!




Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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