Read Malachi 3:13-15
13 God says, “You have spoken hard, rude words to me.
“You ask, ‘When did we ever do that?’
14-15 “When you said, ‘It doesn’t pay to serve God. What do we ever get out of it? When we did what he said and went around with long faces, serious about God-of-the-Angel-Armies, what difference did it make? Those who take life into their own hands are the lucky ones. They break all the rules and get ahead anyway. They push God to the limit and get by with it.’” (THE MESSAGE)
What do we get out of serving God? We don’t get immediate justice or fairness. We don’t get constant ease and comfort. We are not guaranteed good health or happy marriages or compliant children. We are not assured of peaceable relationships or material prosperity.
If we ‘sign up’ for these things when we determine to go God’s way, we will probably ‘sign off’ when we don’t get what we expected. The people of Malachi’s time were having similar misgivings when they saw that all their devotion to God didn’t bring about justice. What good did it do to do the right thing?
Ultimately, we serve God because he is God, not because we assume we will get certain benefits. To be sure we do get benefits, not least of which is eternal life with God himself. But more immediately, there might be no ‘pay off’ for serving God. If we insist on such immediate benefits we might be disappointed. Maybe this is one reason why many seem to give up on the faith: it hasn’t ‘worked’, it hasn’t given them what they were expecting.
God certainly gives blessings. The ‘pay off’ is eternal. But beware of serving God just to receive certain blessings. In this life we might even look like losers. But don’t give up: in the end we win.