It’s safe to say that most believers want to bless God. We sing songs about “blessing His name.”, speaking well of Him (which is technically all that blessing means). But there is a commonly held idea that in order to truly bless God, we must give to Him; an idea that has led many into bondage by trying desperately to give to God something of worth and value in order to somehow demonstrate gratitude.
However is this idea of “giving back to God” really the best way to demonstrate gratitude or bless Him? Is this really what the Bible says? Today we will be answering these questions from scripture to see what really gladdens the heart of God.
Paul records in Acts 20:35 that Jesus made a statement that has since gone around the world and become quite well-known and popular: it is more blessed to give than to receive. Now we all know this, but do you actually believe it to be true? I am bringing this to your attention today not because I want you to focus on yourself or your own giving; in-fact quite the contrary. Instead I want you to focus on God Himself. Many people have this image and idea of God in their mind as someone who is stingy, they see God as someone who is a withholder – that He is keeping back blessings or answers to prayer for one of various reasons, and this belief actually demonstrates a wrong perception of the character of God. Let’s begin today by reading Psalms 84:11:
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
First we see that it is the LORD God which is to us both a sun and shield. When things seem dark, when the world outside seems cold. God is both a source of light and warmth to us, and that word “shield” does not only speak of the protection of a battle-shield, but the same word also means the scaly armor of a crocodile. Which may seem strange at first, but when you consider that crocodile skin actually protects against water-loss in dry areas, it begins to make sense, especially when we remember that water in the Bible typically speaks of the Holy Spirit. God is our complete source, not only of light, but warmth, comfort, protection and a guarantee that because of His Righteousness, the Holy Spirit can dwell with us forever.
Now look at the second-half of the verse. The LORD, in addition to being our sun, our shield, and so much more; He also gives to us, and look at what we receive from Him: Grace and Glory. Notice that these two things go together; they come as a package… This is where the glory of God is residing now, with Grace. The glory that Moses had, was a light that scared people away – so much so that he had to cover his face with a veil, and the scriptures also say that the glory of Moses has faded and passed away (2nd Corinthians 3:13). This is in contrast to the glorious light of Christ, which did not frighten people away, but instead drew them to Him (Isaiah 60:1-3).
Notice something else along with this grace and glory, the verse says that no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. Now we already saw in a previous study how walking uprightly is to believe and trust in Christ and that it actually has nothing to do with works or our performance. I encourage you to see that study as well for a detailed explanation of why that it true. However suffice it to say for this study, if we simply read the next verse of Psalms 84:12, we see the phrase:
“O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in you.”
Which makes it clear that it is the man which trusts in Christ that is blessed, not the man which performs or works or tries their best. The reason why so many people struggle with this concept is because deep down we still believe that there is some innate goodness within ourselves. We believe that if we could only somehow master this sinful tendency of ours, then we could manage to work well enough to please God, and it is this honestly prideful belief that causes so much resistance to the truth of Grace. God says that he resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, Proverbs 3:34) – He also says in Jeremiah 17:5 that cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm; whose source of strength is their own flesh. That includes us! We are not supposed to be relying on our flesh for anything, especially not for pleasing God; whose standard is absolute perfection!
Friend, the only assurance that we have; and the only right we have to stand before God is in Jesus Christ and Him alone. Knowing and being confident of this fact then we can boldly claim the promise of Psalms 84:11, that God will not withhold any good thing from us, because in Christ we are always walking uprightly.
This is the key. This is what we need to see clearly, grab hold of and never let go… It is the truth of Jesus Christ, and our status in Him. And it is in this way that we can truly please God and bless Him. In order to understand how this is so and why it is so, we must see a couple of important facts from scripture. The first fact being that God the Father is actually well pleased in His Son Jesus. It may be an obvious fact, and you are probably thinking “I already know that!”, but it is important to actually see it in your own Bible, so please indulge me just for a moment, and turn with me to Matthew 17:5:
“While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him.”
What we can see from this in a nutshell, is that God the Father does not waste any time in making it known that He is not only pleased with His Beloved Son Jesus, but well pleased in Him. This isn’t just a passing nod to Jesus, but the Father takes pleasure in His Son. It rejoices the Father’s heart to think of His Son.
Now what does this truth mean for you and me today? Well, that is where our second fact comes in: turn with me to Ephesians 1:5-6:
“Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.”
Simply-speaking, these verses are telling us that it was the good pleasure of God’s will that caused us to become adopted into the family of God by Jesus Christ. God loved us that much, that even though Jesus is His dearly beloved Son, He exhausted all of the punishment and wrath that was due to us on Jesus, so that today, we would be spared the judgment and instead rather now we are accepted in the Beloved, that is Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, being in Him this means that today, you and I are just as dearly loved by the Father as Jesus, we are in Him with the exact same righteousness, the exact same holiness, the exact same love washing over us continually, that today when we approach the Father, we do not need to be afraid; we do not need to approach Him prostrate with trepidation. In-fact, He does not want that at all. (Hebrews 4:16), but He wants us to approach Him without fear, confident in the finished work of His Beloved Son Jesus, in whom we stand. He wants us to be secure in what Jesus has accomplished for us, He wants us to draw from Him and be fully satisfied. God says it this way in Hebrews 10:38:
“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
It is faith that pleases God, but not aimless faith, faith in Christ Jesus, faith that justifies, faith that saves. When you are fully relying on the finished work of Jesus Christ, and being completely satisfied in Him, it pleases the Father.
You might be thinking “James, that sounds way too simple! There has to be more to it! There has to be something I can do to please God more!”
Friend, I am well aware that this message is looked down upon today, even in mainstream Christianity, precisely for the reasons which we have discussed earlier in the study today. People have a hard time accepting that there is no good in their own self and that it all comes from Jesus. We all desperately want to please God, because we love Him, but our sinful nature makes it very hard to accept when God plainly tells us that He is pleased in His Son and our own efforts amount to nothing. Even our own love for God is not generated of ourselves but comes from Him alone! (1st John 4:19)
This desire to please God by doing something is not new, it has existed as long as sin. Even in the time of Jesus walking on the earth, people would ask Him the same questions as this. So before I am accused of speaking unscripturally, I will show you Jesus’ own response in John 6:28-29:
“Then said they to him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he has sent.”
The phrase there “work the works of God” is a little blind to us today. A more literal translation for us in modern English would be: do the things which God requires. They were asking Jesus what they had to do to please Him. And quite plainly we see Jesus response in verse 29. There is only one thing which He requires; only one thing which pleases Him… Believe on Him whom He has sent. It is faith on Jesus Christ alone that pleases the Father – the reason being that to do otherwise, as we read earlier in Jeremiah 17:5, is to trust in flesh and turn away from the LORD in our heart. But when we surrender to Christ and truly recognize Him as the source of everything and receive His gift of Grace completely, He gets all of the honor and glory, and He is blessed.
My dear friend, it truly is more blessed to give than to receive. And God as the perfect Giver, will always be in the most blessed position. We can never be more blessed than God. So I encourage you today, let God be God, and you be you. Let Him be the giver, since He has everything, and instead of trying to repay Him (which is impossible) simply be humble enough to say “thank you” and receive His gifts of love, cherishing them, and sharing them with others. It pleases Him to give every good gift to you, because every gift that you receive is a testimony of the completed work of Jesus Christ for you (Romans 8:32). Remember that God takes no pleasure in works of the flesh, regardless of how noble or well-intentioned they may be. (Micah 6:6-8, Psalms 147:10-12) Simply receive. You bless God by receiving from Him.