[b]Discerning Between God's Approval And God's Blessing[/b]
[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
Most believers are satisfied with being blessed by God - and that too mostly in the material realm alone. That is why Christian book stores are flooded with books on how one can be healed of one's sicknesses and become wealthy by tithing, etc. The emphasis is on physical and material well-being - health and prosperity. This is the clearest symptom of a self-centred life. And yet, we read in God's word, that Jesus died in order that we should no longer live for ourselves but only for Him (2 Cor. 5:15); or in other words, not to please ourselves but only Him. Or to put it in yet another way, Jesus died in order to deliver us from a self- centred life, and to bring us into a God-centred life.
One of the things that can puzzle us these days is the way God blesses a lot of Christian work that is so thoroughly compromising in its character. Does this mean that God is not disturbed by the compromises and the deviations from His word? No, it certainly does not mean that. God blesses many ministries that He cannot totally approve of.
Even when Moses disobeyed God's word and struck the rock (when God had told him to speak to it), God still 'blessed' that disobedient ministry. In fact, two million people were blessed through it. Yet God dealt with His disobedient servant severely afterwards (Num. 20:8-13). God blessed that ministry because He loved those two million needy people, and not because He approved of what His servant did. It is even so today.
Many ministries are blessed because God loves the needy people who need salvation, healing, etc. But He certainly does not approve of much that goes on in the name of Jesus today. He will certainly punish the compromising preachers in due time.
The only condition to be fulfilled in order to get God's material blessings is that one must be either good or evil! For Jesus said that God sends sunshine and rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt. 5:45). Material blessing is therefore no sign of God's approval on one's life. Two million Israelites disobeyed God for forty years in the wilderness - so greatly that God was angry with them (Heb. 3:17). Yet God gave them food and healing throughout all those years - and that too miraculously (Deut. 8:2). Even miraculous answers to prayer in the physical realm are therefore no indication that God is happy with a person's life.
God's approval, on the other hand, rested on Jesus when He was thirty years old, only because of one reason: Jesus had faithfully overcome temptation during all those years. He had lived a life centred in His Father and not in Himself. He never did what pleased Himself (Rom. 15:3). At His baptism, the Father testified, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" and not "This is My well-beloved Son whom I have blessed". The latter testimony would have meant nothing. It was the former, indicating God's approval, that meant everything for Jesus. To follow Jesus is to seek for the same testimony ourselves.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon