In a recent Facebook status update, I posed the question, “Which comes first: blessing or repentance?” The responses I got were varied.
My local hardware store owner asked, “Isnt it the chicken or the egg?” A friend from high school said, “We are always blessed in the eyes of our Lord and Saviour.” A nutritionist helped with, “Accepting Jesus into your heart – and you are blessed!”
I then contributed a revelation I recently received.
“Check this out:
Luke 5:4-8 (NLT)
When he had finished speaking, he [Jesus] said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper and let down your nets, and you will catch many fish.”
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, we’ll try again.” And this time their nets were so full they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
When Simon Peter realised what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.”
BLESSING comes before repentance!!! Oh the endless grace of Jesus Who doesn’t require us to earn His favor, but gives it freely and without qualification. NEVER listen to anyone who tries to qualify His blessings to us.”
A family member questioned, “I thought the blessing came after they actually did what Jesus said,” which is a fair point. My response was, “What about ‘We loved Him because He first loved us…?‘ [1 John 4:19, KJV] It’s actually crazy to think we can earn or by some work or deed deserve his blessing. Thank God we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness, and all my works are totally a response to His favour, grace and blessing – as opposed to a requirement or some kind of catalyst :-D.”
Under law, one man’s (Adam’s) sins were enough to condemn all mankind; but under grace, one Man’s (Jesus) sacrifice is enough to save all mankind. Under law, animal sacrifices and efforts to keep the law were required; under grace, we are judged by Jesus’ effort on the cross – that one deed was awesome enough to buy back all debt we ever owed God.
Simon Peter whinged and doubted Jesus’ order to try again, then cooperated, then struggled to contain the blessing – needing more vessels to hold the wealth of fish they were bringing in, nearly wrecking his nets. THEN he realised Who Jesus was and what He had done, and the revelation brought him to his knees – He had a heart reponse to the blessing. Repentance follwed blessing.
It’s so awesome that Jesus blesses us without deserving it. He wants us to treat Him like God – like Someone Who can help us, not Someone Who needs our help. Sure He involves us and uses us, but don’t miss the point. He’s God. We’re frail, earthen vessels barely able to comprehend the sublime majesty of His very nature and existence. It’s as futile as an ant trying to comprehend my life, relationships, technology and resources; and it’s only by our spirits being divinely ignited that we can understand His Spirit and related things.
Other religions have other “ways” of reaching God, but how insulting to God, and how ridiculous a thing to grasp at. It’s like we had a $1,000 debt, then He made a payment of $1,000,000,000,000 to our account. Why keep making payments? Why look for another way to clear the slate and achieve relationship with God? We have been redeemed (bought back) by one price paid on the cross by Jesus, and all works of our hand thereafter are futile, and good for nothing except that genuine heart response to the magnitude of His blessing to us – but blessed we are, even before that response.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
We aren’t qualified for blessing, apart from Jesus. We aren’t equipped to impress God. That’s what the Law was for – to prove how futile our efforts are. He wanted to firmly establish that no one is qualified or can earn His salvation, that it’s a free gift from the One True God to His children and creation. Only Jesus was qualified to fulfill the law. So you see, He didn’t remove it – he satisfied it. And now, under His grace, without earning it, we can be recipients of His blessings.
Blessing comes first!