The Price of Blessing

by mjongsma on March 11, 2013

The popular theology of the day teaches us how to unlock God’s storehouse of blessings (usually defined as physical and financial prosperity). An honest reading of the  scriptures, however, reveals a formula for success that is in stark contrast to what we are being told.

The blessings of God are not without cost. Yes, God made a covenant with Abraham to bless his lineage, but it also contained conditions and exacted a price: absolute obedience and loyalty to God above EVERYTHING. We are not blessed just because we are the children of God; we are blessed because we are the obedient children of God.

Then the angel of the Lord called again to Abraham from heaven. “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me” (Gen. 22:15-18).

Would parents who lavished their children with gifts in spite of the fact that their children were rebellious, disobedient and disrespectful be considered good parents? Why would we expect anything different from our our heavenly Father?

Grace may be free, but it is certainly not cheap.

Pastor Jason

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Whitney on Facebook March 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I hear this message, I listen to it, I believe I understand it, and a great part of me is in total agreement…BUT (never saw this coming, eh? ;))…how does this message stack up against this week’s message of the two (Prodigal/younger, and older)sons, one of whom was rebellious, disobedient, and disrespectful, and, who GOT A PARTY!! “Would parents who lavished their children with gifts in spite of the fact that their children were rebellious, disobedient and disrespectful be considered good parents?” Does the Father of the two sons get a “good parent” rating?


Melanie Jongsma on Facebook March 12, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Maybe it’s significant that the father didn’t throw a party until after the son repented and came home. In fact, the father explains the reason for the party— “For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he was lost, but is now found.” The party wasn’t a reward; it was a celebration.


Pastor Jason March 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Well said, Melanie. I believe you are correct. The benefits of the father’s extravagant grace were fully experienced when humble repentance replaced selfish rebellion.


Robert Whitney on Facebook March 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm

The youngest son wants to tap into his inheritance early (your stuff, Dad; that’s what you’re good for), and he gives it to him! Might Dad have seen this on the front end as display of rebelliousness, disobedience, and disrespect? The reason for the party was not my question, though the fact that he threw it is at least interesting. My question is, does Dad get the “good parent” rating. I mean, he ENABLED the youngest son. I suggest the youngest son displayed “lost” long before he got his hands on the goods and squandered them. I am only drawing comparison between God rewarding Abraham because he was the OBEDIENT child of God, and in pointing this out, the question was posed as to whether earthly parents would lavish riches and favor on disobedient children. Youngest son displayed, up front, rebelliousness, disobedience, and disrespect. Youngest son was rewarded. The God/Abraham standard does not appear to be the standard used with Father/youngest son. I am seeing what appears to be a contradiction.


Melanie Jongsma on Facebook March 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm

I think if you’re going to extrapolate the parable to be about parenting, then you have to ask the same question of the other two parables. Was the shepherd a bad shepherd because one sheep wandered away? Was the woman a bad wife because she lost a coin? If you spend a lot of time on those questions, you’re trying to make the parable say something Jesus never intended. The point of this series of stories is simply that finding something lost is a reason for rejoicing, and the more valuable the lost thing (1 out of 100, 1 out of 10, or 1 out of 2), the greater the rejoicing should be.


Pastor Jason March 13, 2013 at 10:07 am

I wanted to make this point yesterday, but did not have the time to flesh it out so I let it go. Robert, your comment requires that I return to it. The prodigal son parable is not a primer on parenting. In fact, the primary point of this parable is really not even about the sons, but about God’s recklessly extravagant (the meaning of “prodigal”) grace towards us. The parable is about how God’s amazing love for us leads him to forgive our vilest of sins and invite us back into relationship with himself when we choose to return from our self-serving wanderings. If God gave us what we deserved, we’d never be forgiven or welcomed home.

The father would have been “enabling” the son if he had given the party APART FROM a change of heart and behavior. But the scripture tells us that the son “came to his senses” and had decided to “go back to my father” and confess that “I have sinned against heaven and against you” (Luke 22:17, 18, 21). The father was not winking at the son’s sin, but rejoicing over his conversion. That is grace. That is also the price of blessing – sincere confession, humble repentance and unconditional obedience.

About a year ago on my pastor’s blog, I wrote a short reflection on the prodigal passage in which I stated that “God’s response to my broken heart, to my confession of sin, to my coming back home from my periodic wandering is not lecture, review or condemnation but an immediate reckless, extravagant expression of grace that covers my shame and affirms my status as his unconditionally favored, forgiven, loved and accepted child. How amazing is God’s grace! Walk, bathe, soak, saturate yourself in it today.” (

I am sure that 1) there is more that I could say and 2) there is something I failed to say, but I don’t want to write a book here. :)

FYI… a couple of very fine books on the prodigal son passage are, The Prodigal God, by Tim Keller and The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri K. Nouwen


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