What are God's blessings for His Christian children? In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." Footstep followers of our Lord are to deny their fleshly desires, take up their crosses and do God's will.
Self-denial involves saying no to our old hopes, aims and ambitions. 1 John 2:16 (ESV), "For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world." We are not to strive for earthly ease. We need to be careful not to pray for funds to satisfy the old man, the flesh.
Taking-up one's cross is doing God's will in opposition to the world. We resolve to follow righteousness, love, and truth even when the world hates us. History records the lives of faithful saints who were tortured and martyred for translating the Bible, for giving others the Bible, for witnessing to God's truth. Taking up the cross involves using our time, energy and finances in God's service.
Following Jesus refers to following His life example. Did Jesus pray for money? No. Jesus was very poor. He was homeless, "And Jesus saith unto him, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.'" (Matt.8:20) The summary lesson is we are not to strive for wealth. Then how does God want us to manage our finances?
First we are to work, "if any would not work, neither should he eat." (2 Thess. 3:10) Second, "if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (1Tim. 5:8) We are to work for food, clothes, a dwelling place – essentially the necessities of life. This is "providing for his own." And finally we are to live within our means, "Owe no man anything." (Rom 13:8) If we ask God to help us obey these scriptural directions, God will bless us in our efforts.
Many today believe God will give us material blessings if we tithe. The tithe was a command given to natural Israel. It was instituted because the Levites did not receive any land in Israel. They were to use their time performing priestly duties. To provide for the Levites, the nation of Israel was commanded to tithe a tenth part of their income. Numbers 18:21, "To the Levites I have given every tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service that they do…" There are no tithe laws given to the Christian church in the New Testament.
Matt. 6:19, 20, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Spiritual treasures bring great peace, joy, and love to our hearts and lives. Following Jesus' example is a path of rejoicing to the new creature.
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