Is there a way to receive the blessing of God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
If you’re a theist, you do want to be blessed by God. How do you get that blessing? If you turn on the televangelists, you will often hear that you need to send in your faith donation. If you do, you will be blessed. (That blessing usually consisted of an end of poverty and being able to be rich and never sick.) If that is what you have in mind, you have the wrong idea.
This post came to me after hearing our pastor’s sermon the Sunday before last. We have been going through the book of James and it’s a really great series. James is straight-forward and I like that as someone who is an Aspie and likes people to just tell it to me like it is.
In the sermon, our pastor read from the book and I’ve read it several times. Despite that, we all know of times where it’s like we hear something for the first time. Look at what is found in James 1:22-25.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
“They will be blessed.”
I thought immediately what a contrast this is to the Word of Faith teachers. They say you will be blessed if you just “have faith” and give your money to them. (Interestingly, they never think about giving away their money to other ministries and getting a hundredfold return. Funny how that works.) James has a much simpler way to be blessed really, and yet at the same time a much more difficult way that we will not consider following as much.
We would like it if we could just send in some money and do a one-time deal. Not so for James. For James, it is about living a life of holiness. Interestingly, we see holiness as something that binds us. James sees it as the opposite. James sees it as what sets us free. In fact, James makes a stronger case for what this entails next.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
We can all support giving, but let’s look at the first and the last ones and see how we do.
#1. Keep a tight rein on your tongue.
#2. Avoid being polluted by the world.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not doing so hot many times. It’s easy to say we should keep a tight rein on the tongue, until I get into an argument with the Mrs. and let loose a zinger that makes me think “What the heck was I thinking?” It’s easy to say we’re not polluted by the world, until I find out how much I get obsessed with things of this world.
The idea James wants us to get is holiness is the way to blessing. That blessing may not be in material goods. Some people are blessed in that way. Being rich is not really evil, though James is not a fan of the rich, but what you do with riches can be. The greatest blessing is likely having the wisdom James spoke of in living life right. We could say holiness is its own reward.
Contrast this then to the name it-claim it people today. You don’t name holiness and claim it and thus have the blessing. You pursue it. Think seriously about what it is you pursue. For men, it immediately comes to mind to say sex with our wives. For women, it could be comfort or security or some material aspects like food or clothing or jewelry. Just look and try to be honest and ask “What do I pursue the most?”
Then stop and ask “And what if I pursued holiness instead?”
You know what? You will receive instead the blessing of God. What does it mean about you then if you look at that and say “Yeah, but I’d rather have all the other stuff.” There’s nothing wrong necessarily with the other stuff, but it’s not to take the place of God.
And maybe, just maybe, our churches would be different if that is what we were pursuing. It was a shame to me that after Orlando, many of us had to state that we don’t condone the violence, as if people thought mass murder was a common position in Christianity. It should be that we live such holy lives that people would automatically think “Well they sure weren’t a Christian” when they hear about a mass murderer.
So today, I have been like the televangelists in one way. I have spoken about something and said it is a sure route to the blessing of God. The differences is on what that route is and what the blessing is. The other difference is on your end, are you going to do it?
I leave that to you and to me.