“If you return your tithe faithfully, keep the Sabbath holy, and if you remain faithful to Him, God will bless you. He is faithful.” Have you ever heard that statement being made in your church?
For the most part, there is a lot of truth to the statement above. I believe God is faithful. I believe God blesses. I also believe God is good. But, does God bless or reward us in tangible ways because we are faithful?
While I do not claim to have all the answers, I strongly believe that God blesses because He is simply good.
Talking to believers who were facing trials and temptations, James reminded Christians that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…” (James 1:17).
At a certain point, Jesus was approached by a rich young ruler and asked, “Good master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The rich young ruler’s introductory words, “Good Master” was somewhat ambiguous. Did he really mean to call Jesus “Good Master” a term used in reference to God? To clarify, Jesus asked, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Jesus probed further so that the young man could clarify whether he believed Jesus was God or not (Luke 18:18-23).
While the context of this passage is about salvation, and the first part of the debate is whether the rich young ruler acknowledged Jesus’ divinity or not; what captured my attention in this passage was that God is referred to as the “Good Master.”
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus exhorts His followers to love their enemies and treat them like God would treat them, because God “Makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
To say God blesses because we are faithful in our tithes and offerings and Sabbath keeping is like walking into a store; not stealing, and then going to the owner and telling him or her that you should be rewarded because you did not steal. Shop owners do not reward customers for being faithful and not stealing. People in general do not steal for various reasons, but as Christians we do not steal because of who we have become as a result of God’s work in our lives.
We return our tithes and offerings, we keep Sabbath, and we are faithful to God because of who He is, “The Good Master.” It is because of God’s goodness within us that we can reciprocate goodness.
My hope and prayer is that when we refer to the blessings we enjoy, whether it be a steady job, Sabbath hours off, we abstain from saying it is because of “our faithfulness” to God. But instead say, it is because of His good work in and through us.