Incentives are Good

Parents sometimes give incentives to their children to do something. If you work hard pulling weeds this morning, you may go to the pool this afternoon. If you do a good job cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, you may have your friend over tomorrow. Drive your brother to work this week, and the car is yours on the weekend.

Now I’ve heard people say that Christian parents shouldn’t do that. Such people argue that this a form of bribery. And after all, children should listen to their parents, even if there isn’t a reward, which is true of course. Yet, God himself promises rewards to his children, as he does in the fifth commandment and many other places in the Bible. Do this and you will live, Jesus said (Luke 10:28), echoing what his Father said many times in the old covenant.

That’s not bribery. That’s simply promising to show favour to someone you love for doing what you ask them to do, because it’s good for them.

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