“We receive jobs and better jobs, raises, and bonuses, benefits, bills paid off, debts demolished…we command our harvest to come…. angels go get it and bring it to us now in Jesus’ name!”
These are part of the words I used to say every Sunday after the tithes and offerings were received. But, I have a question, what if the blessing doesn’t come in the form of bonuses and benefits but instead presents itself in trials that form you into the image of Christ?
2 Timothy 2:1-13 LSB “You therefore, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.2 And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.5 And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.7 Understand what I say, for the Lord will give you insight in everything.8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my gospel,9 for which I endure hardship even to chains as a criminal. But the word of God has not been chained.10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of the elect, so that they also may obtain the salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.11 It is a trustworthy saying:For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we will deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
This doesn’t sound like everything in life is going to be blessings, benefits, and bonuses does it? God absolutely blesses in this life, but those blessings come from His sovereign hand. If a blessing is going to draw us away from Christ, do you want that blessing?
You may have heard the same Scriptures I did; every good and perfect gift comes from above, the Lord delights in the prosperity of His servant, and no good thing will he uphold to those who walk uprightly. Let’s think through these quotes. Who defines what a good thing is? One minister says God will not put sickness on you to teach you because I wouldn’t put sickness on my child to teach them. No, But you will grab them if they go to touch a hot stove.
When we consider the fact that God’s ways are not our ways we tend to see that in a lofty way but consider the following,
Psalm 119:71 LSB “It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”
Exodus 4:11 LSB “And Yahweh said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, Yahweh?”
Isaiah 45:7 LSB “The One forming light and creating darkness, Producing peace and creating calamity; I am Yahweh who does all these.”
None of us would create calamity, we wouldn’t afflict our children to teach them. Yet, grounding is our way of afflicting. We live in a fallen world and trials and suffering are part of that world. Some will say, yes, suffering for Jesus but not sickness or lack.
Let’s go back to the verses above. The Lord delights in the prosperity of His servant. Those are the words of Psalm 35:27 in the King James and New King James. If you look at other versions the word prosperity isn’t used but welfare (ESV), well-being (NIV, CSB), and peace (LSB). If you look up this term you might say that the definition is prosperity. Upon closer examination, you will see that health and prosperity are mentioned in the abstract. We cannot put an American definition on the term prosperity.
The offering confession may sound good and while it is true God does bless people financially and with health, we are not all guaranteed the same level, and contrary to the teaching your faith won’t automatically deliver you from every negative situation. Peter was miraculously released from prison but that didn’t happen for Paul.
Ecclesiastes 7:14 ESV “In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him.”
We are not promised to know the reason for every trial and hardship in this life but look at Scriptural examples of handling hardship in the lives of Joseph, Job, and Paul. All three of them experienced great hardship and great blessings in life. During both seasons these men rejoiced and they did not bring an accusing word against God. True faith is not the ability to declare everything to be good, Bible faith is knowing that “even when I go through the darkest valley,nI fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 CSB).
You don’t need to make a declaration over your giving to receive a blessing, and making a declaration won’t keep hardship away either. This life will be filled with highs and lows and the joy of the Christian is that even in our lows we can have a peace that passes all human understanding.