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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : God is Only Just in the End » God is Only Just in the End

God is Only Just in the End

Don - November 1, 2007

I just figured it out. God’s blessings come when He decides and many times that’s at the end — and I don’t mean the end of the trial — I mean THE end.

All blessings are predicated on our obedience to a law. Even if we could figure out which law we must keep to receive a specific blessing it doesn’t mean we will get that blessing as we are living or when we’ve completed living that law. The blessing can come in God’s own due time…whenever that is.

Look around, bad things happen to good people. People who live the WofW have health problems, people who honor their father and mother die early, people who pay tithing still have lots more room to receive blessings.

It’s frustrating. You try to keep the commandments, you live the WofW you pay your tithing, do your church service and you still get “dumped on”. Of course we are told these trials are for our good, we need to endure them with faith etc. etc.

What’s wrong with a little more specific “obedience training”. B.F.Skinner, noted psychologist, invented the “Skinner box” which allowed him to train animals by simply providing the right and immediate reward to the right behavior.

It seems to me that my obedience to the commandments would certainly increase if I was rewarded immediately and specifically for my behavior. Since the blessing is connected to keeping the law, why not move up the blessing part? But where’s the faith right?

It takes faith to keep the commandments in the first place. Aren’t we challenged to keep the commandments, prove God, live the law and know if it’s true etc? How do we tell if the challenge is real unless we get the promise? How do we know if it’s been proved, unless we get the proof?

The proof – the blessings for almost all commandments is certainly not immediate. And for many many commandments the blessing doesn’t come until THE end when we get our “just” reward and assigned to whatever kingdom. We’ve just got to have faith that it will all work out. It might be nice if it would work out a little better / a little sooner along the way. I don’t think it would be so bad to learn obedience by keeping the commandments and getting the blessings in a more timely manner.

15 Comments »

  1. I like your thoughts here Don.

    One might be careful in what one wishes for, however. Desiring to be blessed right now based on our own merit might not be as great as it may sound. Perhaps some of us are lucky that God does not REMOVE blessings in an immediate manner.

    In a way I wonder if we ought to be obedient for reasons other than receiving blessings. Like we ought to obey simply because it is the right thing to do, whether we are blessed or not.

    I have long felt that the final judgement is a culminating event in the atonement (see Mosiah 3).

    Nice post Don.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — November 1, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  2. In a way I wonder if we ought to be obedient for reasons other than receiving blessings. Like we ought to obey simply because it is the right thing to do, whether we are blessed or not.

    Eric, I think you’re right, though I’d take it a step further. I think it was Lowell Bennion who said we obey the commandments for four different reasons, 1) out of fear, 2) for reward, 3) duty and 4) because it is our nature. I think Don is still stuck on #2 and you’re suggesting #3, but I like the idea of keeping commandments because it is my nature. Of course the vast majority of commandments I actually keep are either #2 or #3. But it would be nice if we could shift some of those over to #4.

    Comment by Rusty — November 1, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

  3. “You are in violation of the balance. Please leave or I will be forced to deport your sorry %&^*%$ back to Hell”–John Constantine

    Comment by Bret — November 1, 2007 @ 2:56 pm

  4. Actually I have heard it argued that God uses a variable ratio response pattern in answering prayer (prayers are answered in a noticeable way but not every time, and not after the same amount of prayers each time) precisely because that is the schedule that will keep us praying more often (a la Skinner and Behaviorism). In essence this ‘works’ because we are unable to anticipate how much effort is needed to get an answer so we keep giving more effort in the hope that the next prayer will be the one that is answered.

    Comment by Another Don — November 1, 2007 @ 4:48 pm

  5. Rusty,

    It would become my nature if blessings came quicker and were directly connected to the commandment.

    Don,

    Does that work in reverse? Since I don’t get consistent answers I give up.

    Comment by Don — November 1, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  6. Of course, another fly in the ointment is that even if we have faith, repent, receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation and endure to the end and receive the reward that God has promised to those who do, it is not a “just reward.” It’s a gift that we really have done nothing to deserve, and we can never get past the point of being unprofitable servants.

    I’m with Eric–I’ll be satisfied with God not striking me dead or blind or halt or maimed for any one of the reasons I deserve it, and be grateful for the grace and mercy that I receive although I don’t deserve them.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 2, 2007 @ 7:53 am

  7. Yeah, it does work in reverse, not getting answers to prayers, according to behavioral learning theory, will eventually cause a person to stop praying. The difference is in how fast you learn to stop praying. If you are accustomed to getting an answer every time you pray it will only take a small number of consecutive non-answers to convince you that prayer no longer works. However, if you are used to getting answers sporadically you will continue to try after answers have apparently stopped hoping that the next answer is on its way.

    Comment by another don — November 2, 2007 @ 8:09 am

  8. Aren’t the blessings we receive from obedience blessings of character and changed nature? I think they are more immediate than we think.

    If we are waiting around for God to give us better life situations, more money, better health, less adversity maybe we are missing the point of this life. We are here to develop Christlike character and that only happens with struggle, faith, and then the greatest blessing; divine grace. As we are patient in adversity we become more as Christ was in his adversity. As we pay our tithes and offerings and don’t expect cash blessings in return we are less selfish and worldly and more like Jesus. As we serve others we come to love them just like our Savior.

    Of course we are not expected to pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We cannot fundamentally change our character and nature without the grace and power of God. And as we grow from grace to grace, just like Jesus, the blessings of God for our obedience will be seen as a transforming layer of dew from heaven, distilling upon our souls.

    The blessings of “heavenly reward” don’t really come later, because eventually we’ll just go where our character has led us—with God if we have become godly or away from him if we haven’t.

    Comment by Derek — November 2, 2007 @ 9:01 am

  9. Derek, that was really beautiful. I think you nailed it on the head just right…

    Comment by Cheryl — November 2, 2007 @ 11:28 am

  10. Thanks for the post. How might we interpret King Benjamin’s words in light of this post?

    “And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?” Mosiah 2:24.

    Comment by aquinas — November 2, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  11. aquinas,

    Thanks for that scripture, I had forgotten it. Now I wonder if / since He immediately blesses us for keeping the commandment, then why does He keep it a secret. Why don’t we connect the two? Why are we more aware of that and the connection?

    Comment by Don — November 3, 2007 @ 12:25 am

  12. I think this is basically what Elder Condie was getting at in his talk. God’s promises are on a different timetable than we often want them to be.

    aquinas, here are my thoughts: God immediately blesses us with His Spirit, etc. when we obey. The Atonement kicks in as it grants us peace and changes our natures, line upon line. But that doesn’t mean that we will receive all that He has to give us immediately. The fulness of His blessings will come only after we are resurrected. Again, Elder Condie gets to the breadth of the blessings that can come through faith, but reminds us that some will only come eternally.

    Comment by m&m — November 3, 2007 @ 11:34 am

  13. Don, I think that is a really important question to ponder. Does he keep it a secret? Perhaps he is attempting to show us but we are unwilling to see it. Or, to phrase the question in a slightly different manner, how could we be more aware of the ways is he immediately blessing us?

    Comment by aquinas — November 3, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

  14. aquinas,

    So let me get this straight. I’m blinded as to being aware as to the blessing that come from keeping the commandments because of my sinfulness. The more sinful the less I can see the blessing. But as I keep the commandments I can better see the blessings and the more I keep the commandments the better I see. Now I see better that I should keep the commandments so I can see and not be blinded.

    Comment by don — November 3, 2007 @ 6:35 pm

  15. I think about this all the time and I agree with Derek:

    Aren’t the blessings we receive from obedience blessings of character and changed nature? I think they are more immediate than we think.

    I think the consequences of our actions, both positive and negative are always immediate, in a spiritual sense. We are not blinded to spiritual things, they are just, by nature, harder to see and appreciate unless we know what to look for.

    Our actions usually have other, more physical consequences too. But since we are notoriously poor at sorting out cause and effect, especially because the physical effect of our actions is not usually immediate, we often fail to appreciate it.

    This reminds me of the story of Elijah and the Rabbi Jachanan, told by Merlyn from TH White’s The Once and Future King:

    “The Rabbi Jachanan went on a journey with the prophet Elijah. They walked all day and at night they came to the humble cottage of a poor man, whose only treasure was a cow. The poor man ran out of his cottage and his wife ran too, to welcome the strangers for the night and to offer them all the simple hospitality which they were able to give in straightened circumstances. Elijah and the Rabbi were entertained with plenty of cow’s milk, sustained by home-made bread and butter, and they were put to sleep in the best bed while their kindly hosts lay down before the kitchen fire. But in the morning, the poor man’s cow was dead.

    They walked all the next day and came that night to the house of a very wealthy merchant, whose hospitality they craved. The mercahnst was cold and proud and rich, and all that he would do for the prophet and his companion was to lodge them in a cowshed and feed them on bread and water. In the morning however, Elijah thanked him very much for what he had done and sent for a mason to repair one of his walls, which happened to be falling down, as a return for his kindness.

    The Rabbi Jachanan, unable to keep silence any longer, begged the holy man to explain his dealings with the human beings.

    He replied, ‘In regard to the poor man who recieved us so hospitably, it was decreed that his wife was to die that night, but in reward for his goodness, God took the cow instead of his wife. I repaired the wall of the rich miser because a chest of gold was concealed near the place, and if the miser had repaired the wall himself, he would have discovered the treasure.

    SAY NOT THEREFORE TO THE LORD, ‘WHAT DOEST THOU?’ BUT SAY IN THY HEART, ‘MUST NOT THE LORD OF ALL THE EARTH DO RIGHT?’”

    Comment by MCQ — November 6, 2007 @ 11:53 pm

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