Bahai Reward and Punishment

Bahai Reward and Punishment

Does your diety punish and reward in this life?

JACK MCLEAN is a Bahá’í scholar, teacher, essayist and poet published in the fields of spirituality, Bahá’í theology and poetry.

Rare is the woman, man or child who can function without the motivation of either reward or punishment. Without speaking of a Deity who rewards or punishes, most of us discover that we are both rewarded and punished by our own actions.

The ancient adage is a true one: “The deed is its own reward.” But rare is the person who functions at such a high level of spirituality.

Most of us look for some form of reward for services performed. We expect a paycheque when it’s payday, and we always expect that those whom we love will love us back. Reward and punishment is built into the nature of things. Every litigant who has won or lost a case in court knows this to be true.

But if we are “deserving” of reward for good deeds performed, why do we think we will not be deserving of punishment if we behave thoughtlessly or selfishly, at the expense of another’s happiness? We often find that, if we act selfishly, what we so zealously or unwisely sought eludes in the end.

The laws of the physical universe — action-reaction/cause-effect — have their counterparts in the moral universe, for all laws regulating the physical and spiritual universe are controlled by the same Governor and Ordainer. These moral and spiritual laws are revealed by the Prophets and can be found in the holy books of the world’s religions.

People do not seem to object to a God who rewards, but they definitely do not seem to like a God who punishes. They want the one without the other. But Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, revealed in his main ethical work: “O Son of Being! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds” (The Arabic Hidden Words, No. 31).

This moral injunction calls us to be thoughtful and responsible for our deeds on a daily basis, and to bring ourselves to account, presumably for the sake of improving our own lives, and to the extent possible, the lives of others.

Bahai Reward

Religious Opinion

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