“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
All of God’s material blessings are free. The sunshine and rain which produce fruitful seasons are proofs of God’s immense goodness (Acts 14:17). To access these wonderful blessings, human effort is required. Since the Fall and God’s pronouncement of a curse upon the ground, sweat has been essential to harvesting crops from the dust from which humanity was taken (Genesis 3:17-19).
All material wealth generated by honest, diligent industry and shrewd ingenuity is still attributed to God because “it is He who gives you power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18). Without God’s gracious blessings of physical strength and mental creativity it would be impossible for you to gain and retain an income. Therefore, the existence and availability of God’s material blessings are solely because of God’s grace.
Accessing God’s material blessings is dependent upon your willingness to meet the conditions He has placed on them. God is quite clear on this matter: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise…(she) provides her supplies in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6, 8). In the New Testament, He is even more plainspoken: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
As the parables of Jesus demonstrate, God has designed the physical world to reflect spiritual truths. Just as material blessings are conditioned upon a combination of God’s grace and man’s efforts, so spiritual blessings are also.
Both the blessing of material prosperity and all spiritual blessings in Christ are because of divine goodness and favor. Both gracious gifts are from God.
Just as the blessing of material prosperity requires human effort to enjoy it, so all spiritual blessings in Christ require human effort to enjoy. Obeying God’s command to work and “in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” (Genesis 3:19) is essential to material blessings. Obeying God’s command to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) is essential to spiritual blessings. Each is conditioned upon human obedience to divine commands.
Only a fool looks upon the material blessings God has given him and sees himself (Luke 12:16-20).
Only a foolish person looks upon the lavish spiritual blessings God gives the obedient in Christ and is self-congratulatory or boastful.