Blessed or cursed? It’s a simple question with an easy answer. Anyone would be crazy to desire to be cursed and yet many live under the curses of the kingdom of darkness without realizing how they arrived at that place. Many people who don’t understand the two kingdoms think their current conditions are based on good or bad luck. They are not based on luck or superstition; they are based upon our choices. The Kingdom of God is established by laws and godly principles which ensure our success if they are followed. God did not create His law to deprive us or bind us, He created it to thrust us into a lifestyle leading to eternal life. The greatest blessing of all is God’s desire that we choose to abide with Him daily to ensure that outcome. His blessing rests upon those who are consistently obedient to His Word. One of those areas of blessing is God’s provision. When we understand that the Lord is our Provider and we follow God’s principles of handling money, we will find blessing.
Our early years of marriage were challenged with financial ups and downs. Soon after my husband graduated with his Master’s Degree and entered the workforce, a big recession drastically affected the oil, gas and building industries. He was in land development and homebuilding at the time. Our income decreased by thirty percent and we were hurting. We had two young children and I was a stay-at-home mom working part time. I learned to cut corners through that experience. Outlet stores became my friend when my two children outgrew their clothing. My husband and I attended church regularly, but we had not experienced a personal encounter with Jesus that changed our lives or lifestyle. We heard of Biblical tithing for the first time in the midst of this difficult period.
Our church began a building campaign by selling bonds to fund the project. A friend who knew the Bible gave a Biblical teaching on the tithe in one of our church financial meetings. We are forever grateful he was willing to speak on God’s monetary truth to us that night. Our giving had been far short of a tithe (10%) of our income. It was more like a “token” or a tip. Our eyes were opened to the importance of tithes and offerings (above the tithe), and the Word of God cut deep into our hearts. We began to tithe with joy, and since then God has been our faithful provider.
Malachi 3:8-11 promises, “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings [you have withheld]. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, this whole nation! Bring all the tithes (the tenth) into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you [so great] a blessing, until there is no more room to receive it. Then I will rebuke the devourer (insects, plague) for your sake and he will not destroy the fruits of the ground, nor will your vine in the field drop its grapes [before harvest], says the LORD of hosts.”
The world (kingdom of darkness) does not understand the true joy of giving. It is filled with greed, pride and selfishness. Many give large donations for tax benefits and to draw attention to themselves by their big contributions which are not anonymous. Plaques are erected and buildings are named in their honor. They receive the world’s praise but not God’s. The Kingdom of Light is not so. “But when you give to charity, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. So that your deeds of charity may be in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (See Matthew 6:1-4). When our love for God is perfected, we will die to ourselves, no longer seeking what we want or pleasing our fleshly desires, we will fulfill the law by obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We have learned through further Bible study, that our devotion to the Lord is closely connected to the money we give to God’s Kingdom. Jesus taught His disciples “For where your treasure is, there your heart [your wishes, your desires that on which your life centers] will be also.” Matthew 6:21. We have never stopped tithing since that day 38 years ago, when we heard the teaching on the tithe! We have learned that our giving beyond the tithe is not to be directed simply by the needs of others, but by the leading of the Holy Spirit. We have been blessed mightily and we have never lacked anything we needed. Recessions have come and gone but our finances have been sufficient in each case, allowing us to continue blessing others in their time of need. We are debt free and it is all because of God’s faithfulness to His promises. Provision from the Lord is a major area of blessing that comes from being obedient to His Word.
God initiated many promises in His Word for all who believe in His Kingdom of Light. His promises are conditional and the blessing and favor of the Lord are attached to our obedience of His Word. When we reject His godly principles, we are associating ourselves with the kingdom of darkness and therefore become partakers of the curses that association entails.
Biblical obedience causes blessing in every aspect of our lives, but disobedience creates an unwanted scenario. When the Lord God brought the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt he initiated the law. His kingdom is established on laws which guide and direct us toward blessing, healing, provision and peace. His statutes are for our protection so that our lives can prosper in all areas.
Deuteronomy 28 explains the results we can expect when we fulfill our responsibility to know and obey God’s law. He begins with verse 1, “If YOU will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above the nations of the earth.” Verses 2-14 list all of the blessings God promises His people who will walk in His ways.
The rest of the chapter of Deuteronomy 28:15-68 contains the list of the curses which will fall upon those who do not follow after God and obey His commandments. These curses follow those who belong to the kingdom of darkness (Satan, the world). The Israelites failed to keep God’s law because they rejected His offer to abide in His presence.
Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection we now live in the age of Grace, but God’s law has not been nullified. Jesus did not come to eliminate God’s commandments, He came to fulfill them making us justified as we grow and mature in our love for Him. His obedience did not take us off the hook, it paved the way for us to follow in His footsteps. Our focus can never be on our fulfilling the law by our own works, however. That did not work for the Israelites and it won’t work for us. Our focus must be solely to know Him and to abide in His presence consistently. By doing so we establish a love and trust relationship with the Lord which enables us to hear and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit Who inspires, teaches, guides us into all truth and empowers us to obey God’s Word through our passionate love for Him.
The apostle Paul described the work of the flesh and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:16-23. He began with a sober instruction, “But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts].” “He also said, in verse 18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” We must be able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit’s direction to be led by the Spirit of God.
How do we know if we’re walking in the Holy Spirit? Paul describes our problem, “For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature, for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. Galatians 5:17. Paul then lists the works of the flesh which are evidence of the kingdom of darkness at work in one’s life. (See Galatians 5:19-21) Paul also lists the nine fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. He explains that if we are walking in the Kingdom of Light, we will exude the fruit of the Holy Spirit. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit].”
There are two distinct kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness (death) and the Kingdom of Light (Life). The first carries the weight of consequential curses and the second, the blessings and favor of God. Every person has a choice of which kingdom they will follow. It is impossible to habitually abide in both kingdoms and be saved. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money, possessions, fame, status, or whatever is valued more than the Lord].” Matthew 6:24.
The greatest blessing and promise of God is that of our eternal salvation born out of our continually abiding in His presence. It is imperative for us to understand the consequences of not being fully committed to the Lord and to His Kingdom. The message of the Gospel is to turn away from the world and all its distractions so that we can fully trust in the Lord for everything we need, faithfully walking in righteousness. We must work out our own salvation with the Holy Spirit surrendering to Him daily. It is then we will reap the assurance of our soul’s final destination. Jude, (half-brother of Jesus with James, Mark 6:3) guarantees us of our future hope, “Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]–.” Jude 24.
How we handle money is just one of the areas in which God confers the blessing or the curse. Our outcome has nothing to do with luck. It is directly related to the kingdom in which we choose to live. Our loving, gracious and merciful God laid out the blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience in Deuteronomy 28. He gave His people the invitation to continually abide in His presence, which is absolutely the greatest blessing heaven affords us. He then asked the Israelites to make their choice. He told them one kingdom would give them an outcome of death (spiritual) and the other life (eternal). He strongly encouraged them to “Choose Life”! It’s a no-brainer. Be blessed!