Bartering in the aisles of Kmart …

When I was very young, my mother occasionally went shopping at Kmart. I always liked going along because while she shopped, I lost myself in the aisles of the toy department.

When it was time to go, my mother would come to get me, and the bartering would begin.

“Mom, if you would get this for me, I would …” and the sentence would be completed by some lavish promise of stellar behavior or grandiose accomplishment I thought might induce her to immediately make the requested purchase.

Unfortunately for me, my mother knew my methodology, and all too often I left the store empty-handed. Occasionally, my mother relented to my request, not because of my bartering with her, but because she wanted to bless me.

My bartering was an attempt to make obedience all about getting a “blessing;” my mother kept her blessing me all about her gracious love for me.

Like a child wanting something from a parent, we often attempt to barter with God. What we are actually doing is telling God that we may become obedient to Him to some degree if He performs for us in a manner we want. By so doing, we try to barter obedience for blessings …

“God, if you will ________, then I will ______,” is how the plea often goes.

By playing this barter game with God, we attempt to reverse our roles with God, putting ourselves in control; we’re willing to give to God a little of the obedience He desires from us so long as He delivers to our satisfaction. One reason we do this is because we often hear preached that if we obey, God will bless. In our minds, it looks like this: Obedience = Blessings. If that’s the case, then we can manipulate God to give us blessings through our behavior.

But like a wise parent, God is all too aware of our methodology, and too wise and holy to fall for our manipulations. In other words, God doesn’t play our game. He sets the relational standards and calls for us to first submit our lives to Him. When we do, He gives us the blessings He has for His obedient children, something that can’t be bartered for from outside a covenant relationship with Him. God doesn’t lure us into obedience with the promise of a blessing; rather, He loves us as our Father, expects (commands!) our obedience because of who He is, and blesses us because He loves His children and desires to be gracious with us.

If you want the blessings a child receives from a loving parent, you have to humble yourself to the will and authority of the parent. The same is true with our heavenly Father. With God, blessings flow from His love and grace toward us, something He has always desired to shower us with …

 All praise to
God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with
Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God
decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to
himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave
him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding,” Ephesians 1:3-8.

Do you try to barter obedience to God for blessings from Him? Or do you give yourself to Him without condition, and receive the grace He decides to give?