If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. (Leviticus 26:3-4)
In the Old Testament there’s a close link between obeying God and material blessing.
But in the New Testament, Jesus does not guarantee that following him gives material blessing. I was not able to find a verse where Jesus says, “if you keep my commands you will have health and wealth.” So then – we might ask – why should we even bother to obey his commands?
As I reflected on this, I saw that I have too often clung to a secret attitude that I would not admit aloud. I felt really glad that I didn’t need to follow the Old Testament rules; indeed my attitude was “Good —-I know I am in, I am saved and going to heaven. I have a lot of latitude. I’m free to do whatever I want as long as it is not too outrageous.”
But I missed something, big time. Because listen to Jesus — he says
“If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)
The more I seek to be driven by love, the more my old attitude of liking to see how far I can push things without sinning gets shoved aside. Now, much better, there’s a push towards loving service.
So what does it look like to seek after a life with a lot of joyful love for the Lord and for people? I don’t think it is the total quantity of one’s good deeds. Some folks simply have a more generous temperament and find it easier to pour themselves out, while others tend towards having a more Scroogelike temperament. I am closer to being an innate Scrooge.
But I can tell you for sure that I am not as much like Scrooge as I would be if I did not have Jesus!
Doing what Jesus says leads to genuine New Testament blessing. This applies especially during our time of pandemic, because now we have a time of material scarcity, not material abundance. A key difference walking with Jesus is being able to experience walking in blessing even when our circumstances are not abundant and fruitful.
You may be familiar with the late great radio preacher Robert A. Cook. At the end of each broadcast he would say: “Walk with the King today, and be a blessing!” Let’s all join in!