Sunday, August 31, 2014

Does God Discipline and Reward Us Based on Daily Activity?


Are blessings given or withheld based on my personal holiness?

I don't have the answer! It seemed appropriate to get that out of the way. Many writers and teachers appear to have the answers or appear that they believe they do. If you review my postings here or elsewhere, and or read my books, watch my videos, or just engage me in social media, I will often appear to have "the" answer. And sometimes scripture or logic is so obvious (at least to me) that I'm willing to give a clear, unambiguous answer.

A couple of months ago at a small group Bible study, we discussed this very issue. Half of those in the room said something to the effect that they never struggle with this question of a connection between their actions and God's direct and personal response. I am not questioning their honesty, but only whether they are clear in their own self analysis.

Let's jump right in with the one no one likes to discuss. Tithing. I tithe. On the net, not the gross. I am very consistent and have been for a very long time. Right now, because of unexpected expenses, overspending and a bit of a shortfall in expected income, I am a month behind in the tithe. As I look at my ledgers this morning, I don't want to fall two months behind, but I can't be sure enough that expected income will arrive in time this week to meet other obligations. If I don't pay anything again this week am I:
  • lacking in faith that God will provide
  • unwilling to step out in faith
  • sinning by not giving God the first fruits
After I work through those questions (or fail to find adequate answers), I move to the next question. Will my failure result in less income, more unexpected expenses, or other consequences. Is my being anxious about all this just another sin, or just evidence of good intentions. Clearly in the month of August, I lost more income as a result of losing clients. It is not unusual to lose clients in my business, but the number of losses in August was very substantial. On the other hand, new clients came on board, and there are good prospects for more new clients in September.

We do know that God disciplines those he loves.

Take this issue another step. Were the unexpected expenses ($225 flat tire, $90 dental bill, I could go on) thorns in the side, tests of my faith, related to other sin?

I can certainly offer many scriptural references to support the idea that God is actively involved in allowing or causing suffering, problems, and blessings in our lives. But I also hear pastors and verses on grace that suggest that we are not being judged on a minute by minute basis for these types of things.

I do believe that there are natural consequences for actions that God has built into our life, and that when we are disciplined and faithful, blessings are more likely. And I understand that rain falls on the believer.

How do you reconcile these differing responses to how God does or doesn't move in our lives based on our own actions?

1 comment:

  1. Great questions, Randy! Take a look at the concept of Firstfruits in the Word. When we operate our lives based upon the Hebraic mindset and calendar, instead of the Greek mindset and secular calendar, something amazing happens in the Spirit. We have just entered the month of Elul, the King is in the Field, and left behind the month of Av, Going through the narrow place. In Genesis God tell us the He sets His own times and seasons, not least among them, the Sabbath day, which runs from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. That has not changed for God, even though Constantine changed it for the world, and the Church. The root answer to your questions lies in our relationship with Father, through Son, by Holy Spirit. Of course, one of the main OT scriptures regarding tithing is found in Malachi 3:8-12, but compare that with the story of the widow's mite in Lk. 21:1-4. As for other areas of our lives, my perspective is that "the rain falls on the just and the unjust." As long as we are in right relationship with Jesus, are not engaged in overt or covert sin, and endeavor to please our Heavenly Father and honor Him in all we do and say, He does NOT judges us moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. Life happens, but because Jesus overcame the world, and because "as He is so are we in this world," we have the authority and power to overcome. One of the other big issues affecting this perspective is whether our thought life is "Kingdom" focused, or "Church" focused. We must be mindful with every breath we take that for Believers one our biggest enemies is the Religious Spirit. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. The law brings death (every sense of the word) and the Spirit brings life. When we are Kingdom focused, in Him we live and move and have our being and we look at life very differently. There are several places in Scripture that tie behavior to blessings and cursing, and one distinctive place comes to mind in light of world events: Gen.12:3, where God clearly says that anyone who blesses Israel will blessed, and anyone who curses Israel will be cursed. Food for thought given the time and season we are in . . .