We may laugh at the thought of having a God whom we can bribe to give us favor but we do it all the time. Maybe at least I do.
The idea to write this article sparked when I attended service last Christmas. The pastor made a joke by asking who among the crowd was able to complete the Christmas series sermon (a four week sermon on Christmas) and said, if we did, we could make a wish to God. I laughed immediately. In my head, “God can’t be bribed by me completing a four week stretch of going to church! ” and, as if almost immediately, a rebuking whisper came “oh yes you do that, you think you can bribe God with other things!”
I shrugged the thought for a while but now, sitting down in my room, I think about it and I realized it might be true. In fact it is true.
We have bribed God by thinking we are a little bit holier than everyone else when we do good deeds- thus expecting a “return of investment”. We keep record of the RELIGIOUS things we do and then wait impatiently for God to pay us back.
There is something wrong with this picture. Expecting from God? Nope, I think if there is anyone in the universe you should expect the most from – it’s Him. God giving favors and blessings? Hundreds of bible verses and real life testimonies will tell you this is true.
Then what is wrong?
For us to even THINK that we can put God in a box and “buy” His glorious favors and blessings with our…filthy rags. Filthy rags.
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. [Isaiah 64:6, NLT]
Here are three things to help us set our hearts (and our thoughts) right on God’s favor and blessings this coming year:
1. Realize that His standards (of righteousness and “good deeds”) is uncomprehendingly high!
for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” [1 Peter 1:16, NIV]
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.[ Epehesians 5:3, NIV]
2. Realize that whatever you do, you will always, ALWAYS fall short of the above standards. You can never earn His favor that way. In fact you can NEVER earn His favor in ANY way.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. [Romans 3:23, NIV]
3. There is ONLY one way for us to please God. There is only one way to get us that “sons of God” status and therefore be rightful heirs to what He has in store…That is to believe (have faith) that His son cleansed us from all of this unworthiness and to trust in Him and Him alone for everything that we are believing God for.
Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. [Romans 8:17, NIV]
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. [Hebrews 11:6, NIV]
Remember the times when you were a kid and was asked to perform before getting anything from your lolo or ninong? That was fun if you can actually gain favor from the one you are performing to.
I hope the thought of us no longer needing to “perform” to get favor is as liberating to you as it is to me. Because now, with God’s grace, you can come to Him. Come as close as you want just like a child to a father and you can boldly ask anything- not because you are good, but because Jesus Christ is good.
May this article make the meaning of Christmas ever closer to your heart.
1 Peter 1:16, bribe, Epehesians 5:3, good deeds, gospel, grace, Hebrews 11:6, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23, Romans 8:17