Carrots or Sticks; Obedience or Compliance

Exodus 9:34

When Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned once more and hardened his heart.

Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.

"Echoing the Impressionists" - 2015 NWHPC Portfolio Review

There’s little debate in my mind about it: honey will certainly attract more flies than vinegar. But the carrot or the stick to motivate a stubborn mule? Now that’s another question. Maybe the issue is that vinegar drives the flies away, whereas honey will capture them when they are drawn. In any case we have two options: to be attracted or repelled by good or bad things.

In the case of our walk with God, better the grace of God than the threat of punishment. To be sure, there are times when the threat of punishment is sufficient and proper to prevent gross outbreaks of sin. But such threat is short lived. Consider Pharaoh. He was ultimately brought to compliance. He let the children of Israel go after the final plague. But he soon hardened his heart and sought to bring them back as slaves. Too bad for him.

We are called not only to escape from the wrath and just punishment of God, but to flee to God for mercy, grace, redemption, and salvation. God’s great work is to bring us to our knees in joy, praise, and delight because of his goodness; not to force us to our knees in compliant subjugation.

We must not miss the grace of God. That’s what Pharaoh did, abandoning God’s ways in anger and hardness of heart. God offers grace and mercy to all through Jesus Christ. It is sweet, life-changing, and the true north of our relationship with God. This is a gift we must not miss.

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