“Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” ( 1 Peter 3:9 )
Among some of the most difficult parts of Scripture are those that call us suffer by laying aside our natural, God given desire for justice. When we are wronged, we want to see retaliation and judgment. The foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice after all (Psalm 89:14). So how are we to reconcile all of this? What does God call us to?
Called to Blessing
Living in the twenty first century, we are all called by many things: media and social networks, telemarketers, the expectations of friends and family, and our own emotions and desires. But there is a call that comes from God to walk in his righteousness in order that we may enter into his blessing.
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram,
‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Why did Abram leave his family and his comfort zone?
He was called to inherit a blessing.
God promised to prosper him and to fight for him. The Lord would execute vengeance and justice on his enemies thus freeing Abraham to walk in peace. This blessing was not promised to come easily, but God promised that Abraham will walk in divine favor and his life would impact the entire earth. The same promise is available to us.
But what exactly is a blessing?
Is it merely financial well being? No.. but it includes that.
Is it merely peace of mind? No.. but it includes that.
Is it merely good health? No.. but it includes that.
Is it just meaningful impact on other generations? No.. but it includes that.
Is it merely safety from one’s enemies? No.. but it includes that.
Is it merely wisdom and knowledge? No… but it includes that.
The best understanding of a blessing is divine favor that causes fruitfulness in all areas of one’s life. This blessing cannot be destroyed by outside circumstances nor is it determined by them. Blessing causes wisdom, health, children, financial well being, victory over adversity, peace of mind, legacy for generations, a state of perpetual victory, and life everlasting.
We see this in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and then Joseph in the book of Genesis. Time will not permit me to tell of all the details of each in this message. But they believed God, fought armies, received wealth, received children miraculously, were kept from harm, were spoken to by God and tested to see if they would truly obey Him.
Have you ever met someone who liked to lose? Who liked to work hard only to have everything fall apart? Have you met someone who likes being sick? Going through divorce? Not being able to have children? Having their business fail or their bank account empty? Everyone wants to be successful, prosperous …blessed. But are they willing to obey God? This is the differentiator.
Obtaining a blessing does not come without trials. But what is the alternative to following God’s plan?
Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
The band Cage The Elephant sings it like this:
“You know there ain’t no rest for the wicked. Money don’t grow on trees. Got bills to pay; got mouths to feed. Ain’t nothin’ in this world for free. You know I can’t hold back; I can’t slow down. Although you know I wish I could. There ain’t no rest for the wicked… till we close our eyes for good…”
The Word of God says,
“There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked.” Isaiah 57:21
“He who sins is a slave to sin. But if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:34 & 36
One of the greatest of God’s blessings involves rest. A state of peace and harmony with life and others. Have you noticed that this seems to evade the wicked?
Think of the greedy person obsessed with wealth. Martha Stewart was one such person who though she had millions, reverted to dishonesty and lies in order to avoid a loss of less than $50,000. She was convicted of securities fraud and obstruction of justice and spent jail time because of it.
Next, think of the killer and fugitive from the law.
Ted Bundy is an infamous case. He was a convicted serial killer and rapist. Before his execution he interviewed with James Dobson. He described his descent into darkness. It all began with pornography. Then soft porn was not enough. It had to be hard porn. Then that wasn’t enough. Ted Bundy had to begin acting out these fantasies. After his first rape and murder, he was horrified with himself. For months he couldn’t believe what he had done. But eventually, the demons got the better of him. He committed his second case, then his third. It got easier each time. He lived in a constant state of torment and paranoia… until he was finally caught by the law. He was a captive of wickedness. (Side note: it is reported that before his execution, he repented of his sins in jail and became a Christian.)
The life of wickedness is the exact opposite of the life God has for us. The wicked will not inherit the blessing or the kingdom of God. So choosing the life of righteousness is for our benefit… but not only ours.
The Halo Effect
Although I like video games, I’m not talking about first person shooters or media addiction. The halo effect is an atmosphere of blessing that impacts others and the environment because you are walking in God’s blessing yourself. Someone else’s life will be changed by your decision to inherit a blessing.
Where does this idea of the halo come from?
For those who have seen the old movie All Dogs Go to Heaven, you are familiar with the Hollywood version of a halo. It is a floating golden ring above one’s head that supposedly everyone in heaven wears. Is this really it? I don’t think so.
The Spirit of God is without measure and cannot be contained by space. When the Holy Spirit comes upon a person, they are forever changed. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit’s presence has an impact on the environment. Remember the story when Moses spent 40 days on the mountain top with God? He came back shining like the sun! Also, remember when the apostle Peter walked down the street in the book of Acts? It was said that sick people lined up along the streets so that Peter’s shadow would fall upon them and they would be healed!!!
A few times when I have been watching a preacher on stage, I have seen a white glow around him. Literally like light coming out of his body, surrounding him, hovering behind him… like a massive Photoshop Glow Effect in real time. Am I hallucinating? Are the lights too bright in the auditorium? NO! This is the halo effect. It is the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit upon someone’s life that radiates out of them, affecting the entire atmosphere! Occasionally, this is visibly perceived by the human eye / eye of the spirit. This is what people saw upon Jesus and the early disciples.
If you re-examine the artwork of Jesus and the disciples from old times, sometimes there are beams coming from behind people’s heads, other times it is a circle of light around the head, and various other depictions. My theory is this glow coming from God’s presence became popularized in some drawings into what we now think of as a “halo” … the floating gold ring above the head. Funny right?
Now that we understand that God’s blessing creates a radiant atmosphere of power in our lives, let’s look at some of its effects.
“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.” (Genesis 39:1-4)
“Everyone tried to touch [Jesus] because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.” (Luke 6:19)
“And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.” (Acts 5:14-15)
Was it really Peter’s shadow that did the healing of those laying on the side of the road? Of course not, it was the Spirit of God upon him causing people nearby him to be blessed and set free from their infirmities!
Think also of Solomon. He was granted wisdom unlike any other so that not only he but all of Israel prospered. And this to such an extent that all the great kings and queens of the day were in awe.
This halo effect is simply the overflow and atmospheric impact that God’s presence brings. This is why Jesus says to us… we are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
God’s desire for humanity is not to destroy but that we would inherit his blessings. The blessed life is a life full of God’s presence. The key to this is to receive the Spirit of God and obey his voice, which results in personal and corporate breakthrough.
At the beginning I asked how we reconcile the call to repay good for evil. It was reconciled at the cross of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are given the power not to repay evil for evil, harm for harm but rather entrust ourselves to God’s divine justice and timing. He will repay the wicked. In the meantime, we who have received mercy get to practice giving it.
God calls us to give others what they don’t deserve so that we might inherit what we don’t deserve!
You and I are called to inherit a blessing.