Last week I wrote about the difference between a good person and a God person. A billionaire can give all of his money to charity but still end up going to hell. The destination of your eternal soul can’t be bought with good works and kind deeds. My heart breaks for people who are trying to be “good” without having God, because it’s like they make it 90% of the way to the truth and then stop. Their heart’s in the right place, they’ve got good motivations, they want to help, but….. they don’t want God or the free gift of forgiveness and salvation that He’s offering. A ten thousand page resume filled with all of your good deeds doesn’t buy entry into heaven. And we already talked about the fact that at the end of the day, it doesn’t even really buy happiness either.
As I thought more about this subject this week, I got to thinking about the difference between a good person and a God person. I don’t want to try to be a “good” person, I want to be a God person, because I know without a doubt that if I am a God person then love and good deeds and friendship and all these good things will be second nature to me. It’s impossible to know God and not have love for others. It’s impossible to be like Jesus and not help people. Loving others is what God’s all about, helping people is what Jesus is all about. If you’re a God person, you’re not loving people and doing good deeds to earn your way into heaven or to earn the favor of those around you, it’s just a part of who you are. It’s that faith without works thing that James talks about in the Bible in one of my favorite scriptures.
James 2:14-17 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
It’s one of the most challenging sections of scripture, one that can get people confused and upset, but to me it’s one of the most beautiful. No, you can’t earn your way into heaven by doing good deeds. HOWEVER, if you truly are mirroring Jesus, if you really are seeking God’s heart and walking in His commandments, then your faith will naturally produce works. If I tell you every day for an entire year that I’m a follower of Jesus, and yet for that entire year I never read my Bible, never pray, never attend church, sleep around, beat people up, steal from my employer, never help others, only help myself, never think of others, only think of myself, well, guess what? Chances are, I’m not actually a follower of Jesus. I have professed faith, but that faith isn’t manifesting as good works. Maybe I was following Jesus at some point, but I’m way out of whack now.
This is all a long intro to my main point, which is this. What does a God person look like? What does it take to be a truly good person? What are the criteria for prosperity?
As it always does, the Bible has a great answer and example for us on these questions. I was reading the book of 2 Chronicles and I became enamored with the king of Judah named Hezekiah. Not only does he have a totally boss name, but the guy is just all about God. I’ll be writing more about him soon, but he really just comes into power and starts doing everything God’s way and it’s such an incredible time in the history of the land of Judah. Hezekiah is awesome, is what I’m basically saying.
In 2 Chronicles chapter 31, Hezekiah has just finished doing something really cool. I’m going to blog about it soon so I don’t want to spend too much time on it now, but he reinstates Passover and invites their estranged and sometime enemy brethren from Israel to join them. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read in the Bible and the whole thing just makes you see the power a return to God can have on a nation and on a people, but that’s all stuff for a different blog. In chapter 31, Hezekiah just finished reinstating Passover and getting the people back to a place where they’re once again putting God in His proper place. And as the chapter closes out, it tells us this.
2 Chronicles 31:20-21 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. 21 And every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered.
What does a God person look like? What does it take to be a truly good person? What are the criteria for prosperity? The Bible just told us. Let’s break it down into three sections here.
He did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God.
I mean, that speaks for itself, right? He did the right things, he did the good things, and he was faithful. My friends, we know the right things to do in life. We don’t always do them, but we know the difference between right and wrong. We know the good things too. We know that it’s good to help others, to show love. And he was faithful, man. Faithful to God. Sticking with it, staying the course, remaining true. We’re good at being faithful to ourselves, to our desires, but I don’t know that we as a society these days are good at being faithful to much more than that. How many spouses stay faithful to their partners? How many politicians stay faithful to the voters? How many employees stay faithful to their employers (by working hard, upholding the rules, etc.)? Hezekiah did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God.
Every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God and in accordance with the law and the commandments, seeking his God, he did with all his heart…
We talked about seeking God not too long ago on this blog. Hezekiah was a God seeker, and not just halfheartedly, it wasn’t an inauthentic seeking of the Lord, he did it with his whole heart. He did kingdom work, worked for God, and he kept the commandments of God.
… and prospered.
That’s the key to prosperity. Do the right things with the right heart, seek God with your whole heart, carry out the purpose He has for you as you endeavor to spread His love in this world. This is Hezekiah’s faith in action, like James wrote about hundreds of years after Hezekiah was dead and gone. Hezekiah didn’t just talk about doing Godly stuff, he did Godly stuff! He didn’t just tell people he followed God, he put it into action. His faith was alive, and he prospered.
When I read those two scriptures it really clicked in my mind. That’s what a true good person is. That’s what a God person is. Whole heart. God keeps bringing that phrase into my life. All or nothing. God didn’t design you to be His part time child. He doesn’t just get custody of you on weekends and holidays. He’s dad forever, and we’re His kids forever. Whole heart, all in, staying faithful and true to our Lord. It’s not earning your way into heaven, it’s not being perfect every day of every week of every month of every year. But it’s not living in sin, either, it’s not straddling the line and trying to enjoy both the dark and the light. It’s making a choice, a commitment, and remaining faithful to it. Whole heart.
PRAYER AND CLOSING
Father God, make us like Hezekiah. Your Bible shows us people, it’s something I love so much about it. You know that we related to other people, and so you show us these great examples. Want to be a truly good person? Wanna know how to prosper? Here’s Hezekiah, read about him and learn from his life. Through your word, you tell me things and you show me things. Thank you for showing me what it means to be a good man through the life of Hezekiah. God, I pray right now that you’ll visit the importance of a whole heart attitude upon your people. We gotta stop stepping into your house on Sunday mornings and then wandering back out into the world on Friday nights. Help us learn to stay faithful, God, give us the strength of character and the growth we need to be faithful as we do work for you and show your love to this world. This world is in desperate need of your love, God, and how are they going to learn about it if all of your people aren’t faithful enough to carry out your mission of going and telling them? Call us to action, God, call us into full commitment. You love us with your whole heart, God. Jesus, you went to the very end for us, whole heart, all the way unto death on that cross. My cross, where I should’ve been, you went for me. Now I want to show the same faithfulness to you. Strengthen me and give me wisdom, and help me stay true, and if I wander off the path I ask that you do whatever it takes to get me back on immediately. I’ve wasted enough time off the path in my life, I don’t want to waste anymore. I love you, God, and I thank you so much for all that you and all that you do. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Have a safe and relaxing weekend, everyone! I love you!