the biblical bribe

“Be good while Mom shops, and you’ll get a treat . . .”
Poor parenting, right? Seems to me the child should be good or else.

“Give to such-and-such charity. Hurry before the year ends – it’s tax-deductible!”
Charity? Really?

Whatever happened to obedience and kindness? You do something because you’re supposed to or because you want to, not because you might expect something in return.

Funny. I’m coming across more than a few “bribes” as I study the Word. Anyone else find that odd?

The reward for humilty and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Prov 22:4

Couldn’t He have just said, “Be humble and fear the Lord”? I feel like He shouldn’t have told us what we’d get for it.

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord. Eph 6:5-8

Remember, you’ll get something back. So it’s worth it.

Honor your father and mother (this is the first commandment with a promise), that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. Eph 6:1-3

Want good things to come to you? I’ll tell you how.

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. Mal 3:10

Try it just to see if I’ll do it.

If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 1:19

Obey? You get a piece of candy. Disobey? You sit in time-out.
{21st-century-parenting paraphrase}

I mean, think about it. Conditional promises abound in Scripture, and the idea of a “reward” is prevalent (e.g. Ps 19:9-11, Prov 11:18, 25:21-22, Luke 6:35, Col 3:23-24). God doesn’t hesitate to say, “Follow me. Live like I designed and desire. And you’ll benefit from it. As a matter of fact, do it because you’ll benefit from it.”

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. . . . But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matt 6:1,6

It’s almost like He really wishes we would choose the right thing, because then He could give us a reward.

I’m not suggesting that you bribe your children.

I’m only suggesting that our Father does.

[image credit:,]

6 thoughts on “the biblical bribe

  1. Yes! I’ve often thought the very same thing. When my kids were little, I expected them to obey when we were out running errands – there were consequences if they didn’t. But it was such a delight to be able to reward them with skittles or something like that if they’d behaved. I also expected them to not throw a fit or to have a bad attitude if they didn’t get a reward. Anyway, everyday life seems to be full of rewards/consequences. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree, Lydia, God is clear about all the rewards and consequences, and He is a faithful God so He still follows His own laws. He does so generously want to reward us like you said. I also feel that when we obey and follow Him, we discover a much bigger reward – that of discovering Jesus, and how beautiful and kind He is. After awhile, the physical reward diminishes in value, just to know Jesus.
    Thank you for studying Scripture and letting it speak for itself. Well done!
    Pamela Mytroen

    Liked by 1 person

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