What are the hallmarks of a life that pleases God? Looking at the teaching of Jesus, it seems that love for God is at the core of such a life. The Apostle John reports that Jesus insistently stated, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you” (John 14:15, The Message). Whether this recalcitrant generation agrees or not, loving obedience is an essential quality for those who seek God’s blessing.
Yes, it is true that no person will perfectly perform all of the commands of Christ. Without God’s gracious provision for atonement by Christ, all of us would remain subjects of God’s just wrath against sin. Our need for grace, however, does not negate God’s desire that we wholeheartedly obey Him. In order to experience and enjoy salvation the desire of our hearts must be to lovingly submit to God’s will. Teachings and / or philosophies that suggest otherwise lead only to empty promises and vain pursuits.
Unfortunately, the realization of this truth has led many to adopt an equally flawed approach to spiritual life. It is a modified version of the macho mentality that suggests that we must all “pull ourselves up by our own boot straps” in order to be all that we can be. The sometimes-not-too-subtle message is that, while God wants to bless us all, only a select few are really good enough to experience a full measure of God’s blessings. Only a few of us can reach high enough to grasp God’s hand and be pulled up to the next level. What happens to the rest of us? Well, if we keep trying—if we put forth the effort to grow—maybe we’ll be able to reach a little higher in time. Maybe!
Well, the life God blesses is the life of one who humbly accepts God’s will and daily strives for obedience (James 1:19-25); NOT the life lived in perfection. If this is the requirement, we have no hope of experiencing a blessed life. In point of fact, the life God blesses is lived by one who freely admits from start to finish, “I need help! It is not in me to direct my steps. Nor do I have the strength to become what God wants me to be. Therefore, I yield my spirit to working of Your Spirit in me that I may be more fully conformed to the likeness of your Son, Jesus Christ.”
To be sure, the life God blesses daily delights in the will of God. This is where it all begins. This is not, however, where it ends! God, who worked mightily in saving us, is still working through His Holy Spirit creating Christ-likeness in us. This was precisely what Paul prayed for in the lives of the early Christians at Ephesus. He told them, “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19, The Message)
As God’s blessings are poured out on those who submit to His will, so also are the glorious riches of His blessings experienced by those in whom the Spirit works to produce Christ-likeness. The life God blesses is a life lived in harmony with His will by those who are walking in step with the Holy Spirit. Let us never forget that we do, indeed, have heavenly help for the greatest challenges of our lives. We also have heavenly help for the greatest of all endeavors in life—becoming more like Christ! Yes, we are wonderfully blessed!!!
© Bill Williams
August 17, 2006