Started in on Psalm 119. These twenty-two readings in Psalm 119 are among the highlights of my annual reading plan. Twenty-two stanzas of eight verses each. Each line of each stanza beginning with the same letter of the twenty-two letter Hebrew alphabet. Beginning with Aleph, then Beth, all the way through Taw. One grand subject: the Word of God. A Spirit produced, God-breathed love letter to God’s enduring, living, active, mind-renewing, life-transforming revelation.
And something hits me anew as I read the first couple of verses. That the blessing which comes with pursuing and following God’s word is more of a cause and effect thing than it is a quid pro quo thing.
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways!
(Psalm 119:1-3 ESV)
It doesn’t take long before we understand that the intended outcome for the hearer of the Word is to be a doer. Nor will this extended love song stray far from the theme that knowing God’s precepts is not just to gain knowledge but to impact how we live. Thus, the songwriter declares a double blessing on those who walk in His ways and keep His testimonies. But I wonder if we might mistake this for a quid pro quo rather than a cause and effect.
Quid pro quo. “A favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.” God, if I obey Your word, then You will bless me. If I walk in Your ways then I will gain Your favor. I do for You, You do for me. If I measure up then You will mete out. Ugh! Who needs that kind of pressure? What tyranny is a quid pro quo blessing? Prosperity for performance? Blessing for jumping the bar? Don’t know it’s really a viable path for getting to the point where one would declare:
Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
(Psalm 119:97 ESV)
But what if the blessing of embracing the word of God is not intended to be a quid pro quo thing but a cause and effect thing?
Cause and effect. This happens because that happens. As a result of this action you realize that reaction. Less that God owes us a blessing because of our obedience, but that the natural (perhaps more accurately, supernatural) outcome of sowing seeds of obeying God’s word and walking in God’s way is reaping the fruit of the blessing of knowing God’s will. We will thrive as children of God when we think on and follow the commandments of God.
Blessed because we believe. Blessed through how we behave. Blessed because His words are the words of life and we were created, and then redeemed, that we might have life and have it to the full.
His way, the best way. His thoughts, the best thoughts. Our potential fully realized through His promises.
Blessed are those . . .
Not because God owes it to us, but because it’s just the way we’ll flourish.
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” ~ Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 8:3
(Matthew 4:4 ESV)
Blessed are those . . .
Not because of perfectly walking in God’s prescribed ways, but as the outcome of a whole-hearted pursuit of God’s perfect will.
By His grace. For His glory.