Divine Blessings vs Worldly Blessings
The key difference between divine blessing and worldly blessing is that divine blessing come with divine purpose. For us in the Church age, it centers around the finished works of Jesus, and it’s all about Jesus himself. Worldly blessings alone appeal to our carnal nature, but alone, it is empty and we will always thirst again.
Divine blessings have quality and higher purpose. I’m going to talk more on quality first.
Divine blessings give you what you really need for human flourishing, not what your shortsighted human carnal nature craves for, although there are overlaps; and hence the misunderstanding. For example,
Worldly blessings might bring you a “trophy” girlfriend to pass the time with, you spend money and time with her but still feel alone. The longer you know her, the less you think of her. Divine blessings bring you a wife that wants to support what you stand for, and when you simply sit on the bench and talk to her, you can sit there for hours. And the more you know her, the more you adore her. (But this begs the question of what about those guys who stand for nothing bigger than themselves? That’s quite meta. This blessing is intangible and not easily seen. Some guys might actually have it but his wife’s potential is not recognized and/or not actualized! But you’ll never see it or never know it exists unless you actually have a divine purpose. A man that perceives in lesser dimensions will always reduce objects in higher dimensions to those lower dimensions, just as a man that only sees pictures and has never experienced forks and spoons in real life will think the picture of forks and spoons above are only pixels on a screen and not something that can be used to change his life tangibly. We’ll discuss this another time.)
Worldly blessings might win you a lottery. Those monies can easily be lost by bad decisions or stolen by enemies. Divine blessings give you the wisdom to build a business up so you can leave it as a legacy for your children, and even help to equip other people so they too can prosper.
World blessings can be the most comfortable bed in the world or the biggest house with fences. Divine blessings bring you a peaceful sleep and real security from God.
World blessings can be slight increments in your salary after lots of scheming and hard work. Divine blessings can be significant changes in your career and vision, totally changing your life; and it came because God provided the resources in that change.
Worldly blessings can change your next month or next year. Divine blessings can change the next generation.
Worldly blessings might change your job. Divine blessings might change your legacy.
Those who only seek worldly blessings do not know the great God that we have, or the tremendous impact of Jesus on the cross for them, and hence they are always on the lookout for counterfeit blessings.
Blessed are the ones who seek the blessing giver, and not the blessing.
Those who seek worldly blessings alone will destroy themselves.
We know the difference between those seeking worldly blessings and not divine blessings by their fruits.
Those only seeking worldly blessings will likely end up empty, or even destroying themselves with it. 1 Tim 6:10 tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil … and many have pierced themselves through many sorrows. Contrast this to those seeking the heart of Jesus with the faith to receive such blessings to steward them correctly, the blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and God adds no sorrow to it. (Prov 10:22)
On the surface, people who have been hurt by superficial Christians that are self-absorbed will decry that God prospering us in a physical way will only lead to indulgence, or “licentiousness”. Further, well-meaning Christians are afraid that such messages will cause others who have shallow understandings of Bible principles to make risky decisions, or assume that God will make them rich and thus have a slothful attitude.
But often, the reason people reject there is a physical blessing embedded in the gospel is that they are conforming what is written in the Bible to their worldview skewed by bad experiences. They overcompensate for their bitter experiences with selfish, indulgent people who either abused their riches or lived in delusion that riches await but never came and so do not want to associate what they believe is “pure” gospel with anything so “dirty”. When we are fed stories of how many mega-rich people lived shattered and destructive lives, and how Jesus was “poor” (He certainly was not, but that is another post) it’s easy to have a bias that God is against money. After all, didn’t Jesus say, you can only serve God or serve mammon? (Matt 6:24).
I totally understand these concerns these well-meaning people feel. I felt the same way, growing up as a youth leader in the Methodist Church in my teens. Furthermore, having to survive my incurable sickness meant having a razor-thin margin of safety in terms of what I should believe because I have no time, money or opportunities to waste on bad decision making. So, I needed to know exactly what we have in Christ.
But money is not “dirty”, the lust for money is. Sex is not dirty, it’s a beautiful thing, but lust for someone not your wife, or addiction to porn is.
Embracing the fullness of God’s heart = Kingdom of God in your life = provision and protections = abundance = bigger resources + bigger responsibilities. The world is still against you, but God is for you.
Divine blessings do look like worldly blessings on the surface and it does tend to attract people who are full of themselves or are self-centered. This gives the idea that God’s gospel includes physical blessings a bad rep. However, CS Lewis once said that just because you see a bunch of drunkards making a fool of themselves and following a particular road sign doesn’t mean the road sign is wrong and won’t get you to the right place. A modern-day saying might be, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” If God wants to freely give high-quality blessings to his people, but some people abuse it, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want it. It just means that those other people who abused it will never experience divine blessings to its full potential, always shirting around superficiality and mediocre transformation of oneself. Just because you see irresponsible people crashing their cars doesn’t mean you shouldn’t want one.
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for My sake and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Mark 10:28)
Those who want to love Jesus’ heart are going to be blessed in this world. There is no mentioned of gold, silver or bitcoin because those are lower blessings, but the higher blessings of houses, fields, and family … that’s love, protection, and provision in this present age. To make this clearer, Jesus delineates this with the eternal life is the age to come. This means now. Obviously, some form of material blessings is necessary to glue these things together. However, Jesus prophesized that there will be persecutions by the world, by the devil, or the enemies of God. So suffering and condemnations will occur! But God is not the author of it, God is your source of supply to overcome it.
The key term of “hundredfold” is very useful because it’s the key to unlock clarify on this issue.
Matthew 13 is a series of Jesus’ parable to help people understand the kingdom of Heaven that is now and in the midst of the people and in them (Luke 17:21). The reason why the kingdom is only preached at this time with such urgency is that finally, Jesus is here. Jesus is what unlocks the kingdom for the believer.
The Parable of the Sower says that only some people who hear the Word correctly will receive the hundredfold:
“Still other seed fell on good soil and produced a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:8)
Jesus continues to explain this concept to his disciples “He replied, “The knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Matthew 13:11-13)
This phrase is another concept Jesus regularly talks about, and He tells us what sort of people will unlock this Kingdom in the Parable of the Talents.
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. (Matthew 25:24-29)
The parable of the talents showed that for those servants who cared for the master’s heart, the master gave them more resources and responsibility in this world, but also the greater blessing of “come into the joy of your master.” I will argue in another post that this is akin to being in the state of shalom, and a favored life. But, we see the same thing here … material blessings and greater purpose as blessings. BUT, for the servant that couldn’t receive any blessings, the Bible reveals why. The servant had the attitude that God is a stingy God, only thinks of Himself and doesn’t reward his people. The master calls this attitude “wicked and slothful.” When you have a good opinion of God’s generosity on earth for His people, it unlocks the physical blessings of the Gospel.
This is what “everyone who had” means … it means understanding the full gospel which includes embracing the generosity of God… remember, it is the “goodness of God that leads us to repentance” (Rom 2:4), and not the condemnation from the Law that says we aren’t good enough, or that we have work ourselves to the bone to please God before He might bless us.
These series of parables link together a hundredfold blessing in provision and protection in this world, to what abundance means, to how people miss out on the worldly blessing because they have bad opinion of God’s generous heart, which I suspect sadly is due to them projecting their own condemnation on themselves and people to God.
At this point, some people might object with “But what about Jesus himself? Wasn’t he poor? Jesus didn’t have a lot of money and never talked much about making money either. Make no mistake, Jesus was very rich, it’s just that he wasn’t materialistic. Money buys what you want when you want it. If you want to buy a house, you might have to pay $500K, if you want the owners to sell it to you in a week you have to pay more. And the more of such power you carry, the more you might win the affections of people. But money is just a medium of exchange. Jesus didn’t need this medium of exchange because He already controls the entire exchange! In order to feed 5000 people, we would need to own 50 world-class restaurants, Jesus can do without it. When He needs to enter the temple and pay a fee, He doesn’t need a wallet, He can call fish to deliver him the money. Many people desire money because they think they can win the lower affections of envy or acceptance of people, Jesus already had the love and worship of many. In other words, Jesus could easily do everything a billionaire could do and more. It’s just that Jesus also showed the example that we should live for God and for others, and not for ourselves. Jesus showed to be more like God is to master money and grow your influence for God’s purpose and not to horde it for your own carnal desires.
Jesus also had stuff that money could not buy. How many rich and authoritative people had to come to Jesus for healing, forgiveness, wisdom? He is richer than all of them, not just spiritually, but also tangibly.
God’s goodness is unearned, it doesn’t come because you repent, it causes repentance instead.
I’m here to show that God’s heart wants to see us flourish in every way, and that divine blessing that leads to prosperity was never the problem, but people’s hearts are. God is always looking to bless and grant resources to those who can handle those blessings, it’s just that He wants us to have God as a priority, and money is but a servant for His purposes. The Bible says it like this “Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor 6:12). God loves to see you abound in every good thing, so long as God remains your master, not the thing.
Here’s the thing about real Grace from God. Are you ready?
If God’s grace cannot be abused, it is not Grace.
It’s just that those who only want to remain on the surface and only experience God’s physical blessings will never benefit from the deeper blessings that will shape your destiny.
Let’s get introduced to the heart of Jesus.
Observe when Jesus first called the fisherman Simon, James and John.
Luke 5:1-11 New Life Version (NLV)
Jesus Calls Simon and James and John
5 While Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, many people pushed to get near Him. They wanted to hear the Word of God. 2 Jesus saw two boats on the shore. The fishermen were not there because they were washing their nets. 3 Jesus got into a boat which belonged to Simon. Jesus asked him to push it out a little way from land. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Push out into the deep water. Let down your nets for some fish.” 5 Simon said to Him, “Teacher, we have worked all night and we have caught nothing. But because You told me to, I will let the net down.” 6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish, their net started to break. 7 They called to their friends working in the other boat to come and help them. They came and both boats were so full of fish they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he got down at the feet of Jesus. He said, “Go away from me, Lord, because I am a sinful man.” 9 He and all those with him were surprised and wondered about the many fish. 10 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were surprised also. They were working together with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will fish for men.” 11 When they came to land with their boats, they left everything and followed Jesus.
Observation 1: These were uncouth fishermen, not men who had their lives all together like the Pharisees or Teachers of the Law. Verse 8 tells us that Peter had many deep sins.
Observation 2: Did Jesus start by condemning them about their sin? No, that is what the ministry of the Law is, Jesus is the personification of God’s grace. Jesus started by BLESSING them even when they never ask for it, neither did they even think this “Rabbi” knew anything about fishing.
Observation 3: They repented, and even decided to follow Jesus! Isn’t it interesting that after Jesus gave them a windfall of fish, making them the best fishermen of the month as their business exploded, they gave up their monetary pursuits? Jesus basically blessed them with unimaginable success and money, and then told them that his pursuit of success and money isn’t important, But Jesus had to show them they even though they are the worldly experts of the fishing industry, that God knows much better, so they can trust Him to put down their professional fishing career. Physical blessing to callous men did not end in abuse.
Observation 4: Which came first? The physical blessing or the repentance? This comes to show that in the New Covenant given to us, it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance (Rom 2:4), not the condemnation from the Law.
Here’s the rub.
When Jesus blessed the fishermen with an amazing business success (fishing is their business), did the fishermen have the free choice to just enjoy the fish and carry on their lives as they saw fit? Could they have abused God’s blessing, taking the extra money and using it on more wine, women, and song? Of course, they could, God created humans with free choice. Grace is not grace if it cannot be abused. But to the ones that recognize there is more to the blessing, their destiny and personhood will change as they get to know the blessing-giver better.
The heart of Jesus is such that he wants us to prosper in every way, just as your soul prospers (3 John). He also wants us to go about His Father’s business, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9:8).
But to those who think God is stingy, and a tough taskmaster who doesn’t reward His children, God calls those thoughts about Him “wicked.” (Matt 25:24-26)
You don’t have to keep begging God for a blessing, wondering if He arbitrarily blesses people, or wondering if you did something wrong to deserve curses instead. Don’t put yourself in that position of a low opinion of God, or put yourself in that sort of condemnation – that there is something you did that was so wrong that you don’t deserve blessings.
Within the Gospel of Grace already lies the source of divine blessing. Please read my post on Biblical Grace.
This Grace is NOT CHEAP. Don’t insult the price Jesus paid.
The blessing comes so easily? Isn’t that cheap grace?
No, my friends, there is nothing cheap at all. All this was bought at a great price. It was paid by Jesus.
We actually don’t deserve any of it due to our shortcomings, but Jesus does. He took all the curses of His children on the cross, paid all that debt so that God is now holy to bless us.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor so that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)
If you have Jesus, there is nothing wrong with you. Press into His heart and ask for supply to empower your good works, and divine blessings will flow.
I am the last person that should be writing this article. For almost 2 decades, I was struggling in my disease so badly, until I lost my social standing, and even saw some people in Church judge me. I know what it’s like to feel condemned, or to feel that there is something wrong with me that God is allowing me to languish in my poverty in health, career, and social standing. But let me encourage you to not allow your circumstances to compromise what is clearly written in the Bible. When we fix our minds on what is right in the Word of God, you’ll find that your situation will conform to God’s will for you instead.
End of Part 1
But what about the Christians that suffer? Wasn’t Jesus poor? Part 2 will talk more in detail why these blessings are unlocked by Christ, why Divine Blessings being necessary to make the church a nation of kings and priests and share my insights after more than 2 decades of curses and then restoration, on how does suffering play into the mix.
Back to Thoughts.