Summary: A look at both the discouragement that comes when you're doing what's right without reward and the danger that comes when you're doing what's wrong without consequences.
WHY DO WHAT'S RIGHT?
1. With sin, sometimes we feel like we’re getting away with it.
- Having no immediate, embarrassing, catastrophic punishment or consequence fall on us emboldens us to do it again. We begin to become callous.
- There is a fear that first time that abates a little each time we seem to “get away with it.”
2. With good deeds, sometime we feel like it’s all for nothing.
- We try to do the right thing but still have problems related to that.
- We don’t see rewards or positive outcomes from our attempts to do the right thing.
WHY DOESN'T GOD IMMEDIATELY PUNISH AND REWARD?
1. It’s a system that doesn’t work.
- The Old Testament system was one where the direct result of obedience was blessing and the direct result of disobedience was curse, yet Israel didn’t live for God. The system didn’t work.
2. God wants following Him to breed love and faith, not a spoiled brat addicted to candy.
- When you give a child what they want as soon as they begin to whine for it, you end up with a spoiled brat.
- God wants us to have faith that trusts even when we don’t see. God wants us to have love for Him that is solid even when things aren’t going well.
3. God does not delight in punishing the wicked, but wants mercy and repentance.
- Additionally, God doesn’t want to immediately drop the hammer on those who are doing wrong because He desires to see a chance of heart. He desires repentance, not judgment.
PAUL'S ADVICE: Think long-term, not short-term.
- Sometimes the larger question in our mind is: Why do what’s right? Or, why do what’s right when the wicked seem to do just fine and the righteous often struggle?
- Verse 24.
- Some sin is obvious and reaches the place of judgment before them.
- What exactly does that mean?
- Is it just that you can see the punishment coming a mile away?
- Is it that the certainty of consequences gets in place before they get there to experience them?
- Is this talking about the public awareness of the sin?
- Some sins trail behind them.
- What exactly does that mean?
- There is no outward sign of the sin until well after the fact chronologically?
- It looks like they’re going to get away with it.
- Verse 25.
- Good deeds are (generally) obvious.
- As a general rule, good deeds are going to be clear to everyone, in the same way that generally sin is obvious (v. 24).
- Sometimes, though, the good deeds are hidden (v. 25b), but they will not be hidden forever.
- One way this is all true is Final Judgment, but I think it’s also generally true in this life.
- Don’t just by first appearances.
- You reap what you sow.
LIVING THAT WAY: Do what’s right even without reward; don’t get confident when there are no consequences.
- We don’t always get an immediate reward for our good deeds. We don’t always get punished immediately when we do wrong. We need to live with the belief that God is paying attention.