Tuesday, August 13, 2013

God Will Honor

It's something of an evangelical cliche, God will honor you/that. I don't know when I first encountered the concept, but the first example that made an impression was from Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. The Ten Booms hid Jews from the Nazis under a trap door beneath the dining table.  When the Germans would ask Corrie's younger sister "Where are you hiding the Jews?" she could not lie and would answer "Under the table." They would would sweep aside the long tablecloth, see no one, curse, and leave.  Corrie interpreted this as God "honoring" the girl's determination to tell the truth.

It is a common-enough concept among evangelicals now.  The thought is that the believer takes some risk of righteousness, or makes some sacrifice when a practical mind would say no: to confess something that might have stayed hidden, to show honesty even down to pennies, or to refrain from some common practice such as keeping the store open on Sabbath, which God honors by making sure you don't lose out thereby. Such things are spoken of as an advanced, though simple in concept spiritual practice.

Well, the Ten Booms were better Christians than I have proven to be, but I don't think it's an advanced practice and I don't think it is biblical. God might choose to honor a choice one makes, as he apparently did Daniel's choice to abstain from king's table. Jesus seems to "honor" his mother's request at Cana, and to heal Gentiles who make requests with particular faith or humility.  But I think the whole history of the Church speaks against the principle being universal.  People give things up and don't get rewarded a hundredfold.  They lose what they risked. Happens all the time.

I suspect it is something of a works mentality applied in crisis situations, and as such, it may be primitive rather than advanced.  It may not even be specifically Christian, but a default strategy when dealing with any greater power, even an earthly one.  I've done it myself, when we were pending approval in 2000 and 2001 to adopt the boys from Romania.  It seemed right at the time and perhaps it was indeed the only way home. But I rather doubt that now.

This strikes me forcefully when reading about the Holodomor, the starvation of the Ukranian peasants who were resisting collectivisation under Stalin.  Those who refused to steal or prostitute themselves, who shared their food - those died first.  Some survived only because of cannibalism. Were they worse Christians, less deserving than I?  Of course not.  Evil is real, and the results of it are real, as the Bible amply testifies.


Dubbahdee said...

"...I don't think it's an advanced practice and I don't think it is biblical."

Of course it isn't. The Book of Job puts the lie to the whole thing. There is no dependable connection between righteousness and prosperity. The wicked prosper and the wicked suffer. The righteous prosper and the righteous suffer. And we never know whether it might be just because The Accuser was bored with playing the ponies and wanted to throw down another wager with THE ALMIGHTY.

Then there is The Preacher of Ecclesiastes...

Retriever said...

Love the line about the Accuser and the ponies...and the post is spot on, too.