Let us consider the following scripture: Psalm 116:12 “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”. Therein lies the challenge: What shall I offer to the Lord for all His blessings bestowed on me?
In the natural, a farmer plants a vineyard and watches over it during all stages of growth, ensuring healthy growth to give him a good yield for his labours. In the final season of growth, he comes to inspect the fruit – the ultimate purpose for his labours. In all stages of growth, all infection or parasites have to be eradicated, or the fruit will be spoiled. Our Heavenly Father can be likened to a divine Gardener, coming to inspect the fruit in His vineyard.
Consider another example: In the world a successful business man invests wisely, in order to receive a good return for his investment. Our Heavenly Father invests His grace in our lives. This gift of grace is His enabling power to make us into what He created us to be, and do. He invests His grace in us and looks for a return from us to glorify His name.
The grace of God is freely given, but is an investment for the glory of God. His is the source, therefore His is the credit, not men’s. If all I do is bathe in His blessings and say “thank you”, I will suffer spiritual stagnation. To stay spiritually healthy, I need to be a channel, with a divine inlet, but also, most importantly, an outlet to bless others. As God enables us to produce His fruit in our lives, our part is to keep giving it away and sharing it with others.
As disciples of Jesus, we are in the School of the Spirit, learning how to handle the grace and attributes He bestows upon us, to His glory, refusing to take the credit to ourselves. Many a man has learnt the hard way, touched or taken the credit/glory due to God alone, and suffered the consequences. Isaiah 42:8 warns: “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another…” Let us take a moment here to clarify. The glory in this text refers to the credit due to God alone.
In the New Testament, we find Jesus praying for the disciples and for all who would come to know Him, using the word “glory” here. This word used here in the Greek language, differs in meaning from the word used in the Hebrew text in Isaiah. Here it translates as anointing. Jesus prayed, John 17:22: “And the glory (anointing) which you gave me I have given them, that they may be one, as we are one”. Note importantly from Jesus’ prayer here, the anointing from God is invested in His people for unity. That is the return God requires and is His ultimate purpose, oneness with Him. Sadly, the history of the church throughout the ages is scarred with schisms and breakdown in relationships due to men losing sight of God’s agenda for His Church. God will not bless nor tolerate disunity. If people will not humble under His mighty hand, the anointing is absent and man is bereft and desolate. Ichabod ! Where disunity presides, a heart hardens and man, in his pride, rises up and God resists him, (1 Peter 5:5). Unless he humbles and repents, man falls. Man cannot dismiss the issue of pride as being unimportant. History proves it.
So, let us return to the challenge we began with. We find another reference in 2 Chronicles 32 regarding King Hezekiah disregarding the same principal. You can read the events in the chapter which bring him through sickness and his healing up to verse 25 declaring: “But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him, for his heart was lifted up, therefore there was wrath upon him….”.
What is the Lord’s challenge to me through these scriptures? Where is my responsibility in what the Lord is requiring for His investment of His gracious benefits to me? What change is He looking for? Comfort zones can become blockages ultimately. Personal agendas necessitate a sacrifice, but the yielding releases unspeakable joy and peace like a river. You can never out-give God.
Psalm 116:15 declares “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints”. Although this can refer to our physical death and ascension to heaven to be in the presence of the Lord eternally, it can also be referred to the “daily dying” the apostle Paul referred to. When we die to self, preferring others before ourselves, choosing God’s will and surrendering ours, it delights our Heavenly Father, because He sees the life of His beloved Son, manifest in our flesh. He calls it precious as I render to Him His rightful place of preeminence.