A lot of men (and women) take pride in what they have accomplished during their lives upon the earth. We often hear of those who "pulled themselves up by the bootstraps" and those who consider themselves self-made men of success in the world. The men of this world pat one another on the back for this achievement and that and write books to teach others how to get the same level of success for themselves.
It is quite common to hear motivational speakers urging their crowds to more and greater endeavors. They tell men that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. They speak of human ability and the power of having a dream in order to have a dream come true.
Some of them even weave bits of scripture into their "plans" and schemes to provoke their hearers to great feats of accomplishment and to lend an air of spirituality into a completely flesh oriented endeavor. The flesh feeds off such talk and basks in the glory of its own accomplishments both in the business world and in religion and is often moved to thank GOD that they are not like other men even as the Pharisee prayed. (see Luke 18:11)
I have been in meetings where many testified of learning how to tap into GOD's bank of blessings and earn HIS favor in financial matters simply by being obedient to the law of tithing. I have never heard one of them explain what the LORD meant when HE said, "Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." (Luke 17:9-10) Such scriptures as this are too inconvenient for those who believe that the way to motivate men to serve GOD is to promise them some reward based on a graduated level of obedience.
The scripture is very plain that all blessings which are bestowed upon the sons of GOD are the result of HIS grace and not paid out as a bonus based on the degree of service one may render to the KING. Paul summed it up quite well when he said, "For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (1Cor.4:7)
What success can any man enjoy that is not directly the result of GOD's blessing? Who chooses the country into which one is born? Who selects his race or his level of intelligence? Who determines what skills, abilities, and imaginations that he may possess? Where do new ideas come from? Solomon knew the answer when he said, "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." (Ecc 1:9) "The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD." (Prov 16:1)
Now this is just with a consideration of the "success" that a man may enjoy in fleshly pursuits. How much more is this true in a consideration of the spiritual blessings that the elect are the recipients of. Paul said, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Eph 1:3) This would indicate that the source of all the blessings of the sons of GOD flow to them from ONE SOURCE. GOD's blessings are not stored in a bank which men may or may not discover the key to access them, rather the LORD has secured all blessings which HE bestows on HIS children as HE sees fit according to HIS sovereign purpose.
Many would tell us that GOD's blessings are conditional; meaning that GOD pays out bonuses based on the degree of obedience that HIS children walk in. Yet they miss the whole meaning of grace by failing to see that even the very obedience of the sons of GOD is the direct blessing of GOD upon them. This is in keeping with HIS promise, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Heb 8:10-12)
The LORD demonstrated the promise of that new covenant in the fashion in which HE brought the nation of Israel into the promised land.
HE sent the hornet before them. Very few things will cause men to scatter more quickly than a wasp or hornets nest when it is stirred up. David said, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." (Psa 110:3) In this illustration HE used the hornets to cause the inhabitants of the land to flee from the presence of the children of Israel. HE made them willing to leave. When HE is pleased to send HIS SPIRIT to quicken HIS elect sons, HE also makes them willing to come to HIM as HE stings them with the knowledge of a broken law and soothes that wound with the BALM of Gilead, in the gospel. There is no activity on their part, they are but the recipients of that which HE is pleased to give.
HE gave them a land upon which they bestowed no labor. The promised land, which the nation of Israel was brought into, was a place which was secured by the hand of HIM who prepared it for them. They inhabited it not because they used bow and sword to secure it, but they were moved to use bow and sword because HE had given them the land and already had defeated their foes. Their victories were the result of HIS blessing and not the cause of it. "But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people." (Lev 20:24)
They occupied cities which their hands had not built. "Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." (Psa 127:1) The dwelling places of GOD's children are constructed by HIM and HE has built for them a city with a firm foundation. (see Heb.11:10) There is no remodeling needed in this city because HE causes all things to work together for their good.
They ate grapes from vines and olives from trees which they did not plant. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17) All of our blessings are in HIM who is the TRUE VINE and the TREE of LIFE. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Tit 3:5-7)mam