Theme: Acting Biblically
In this week’s lessons, we see how we ought to think and act biblically, and the blessings that the Lord provides when we do this.
Scripture: Psalm 128:1-6
Yesterday we looked at the first important responsibility for the person who would experience God’s blessings, namely, to fear the Lord.
2. Walking in God’s ways. But merely thinking about God is not enough in itself. Right thinking leads to right acting, which is why the psalm goes on to say that those who are blessed are not merely those who “fear the LORD” but also those “who walk in his ways.” I recognize this connection weekly and even daily on The Bible Study Hour, my radio program, when I describe our purpose as “preparing people to think and act biblically.”
Enoch was a man who walked with God. In fact, in Genesis 5, the place in the Bible where we meet him for the first time, we are told twice in the space of just four verses that Enoch “walked with God.” These verses say, “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Gen. 5:21-24). Three hundred years is a long time to walk with God. It is no casual stroll. But that is what Enoch did and is remembered for.
What did he do during those three centuries? Jude says that Enoch was a preacher and that he obeyed God by prophesying judgment to those who lived on earth before the flood of Noah’s day. His message was: “See, the LORD is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (vv. 14, 15). This could hardly have been popular, especially at a time when people were banding together to build cities and develop other tangible forms of civilization, as Genesis 4 indicates they were. Nevertheless, this is what walking with God meant for Enoch. It is a reminder that a Christian walk, while at heart chiefly a matter of the individual and God, is never a purely private matter, and always involves how we act and what we say to other people. It concerns how faithful we are to the truths God has made known to us in Scripture.
And this is what pleases God. For the bottom line of this story, as it is recorded in Hebrews 11:5, is that Enoch “was commended as one who pleased God.” He feared God, walked in his ways and was commended by him. It should be God’s verdict upon the life and walk of every Christian.
Having explained what the God-fearing person will do in order to share in God’s blessings, the psalmist next explains in broad categories what some of those blessings are.
The first is a blessing on our work. If you will fear God and walk in his ways, he says, then “you will eat the fruit of your labor” and “blessings and prosperity will be yours” (v. 2). This needs to be set against several other portions of Scripture, and the first is the former psalm, which says that everything we do will be in vain unless the Lord is in it. The builders will build in vain; the watchmen will watch in vain; the family will be established in vain. Starting from the other side of this truth, Psalm 128 declares that if we fear and obey God, then nothing we do will be in vain. Our labors will bear fruit; our projects will prosper, even our families will thrive. We may not see all the blessing, and there will always be difficulties. But we will thrive.
The words “eat the fruit of your labor” are referring to the same thing Jesus was thinking of when he taught us to pray, saying, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11), that is, God’s provision of what we need to live day by day, linked to our labors. And this needs to be compared with God’s judgment on Adam for his sin, recorded in Genesis 3. In Genesis 3:19 man was condemned to eat bread by the sweat of his brow, that is, by the curse of difficult labor. But here, while work is still necessary, the curse is turned into a blessing by God’s promise that if the God-fearing man or woman does work, that person will indeed eat bread as God provides it.
And our spiritual work will thrive, too. The Apostle Paul encouraged us to believe it when he wrote, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
What must follow biblical thinking?
Why is a walk with God not only a private matter?
According to Genesis 3:19, why must we work?
Reflection: Can it be said of you as was said of Enoch, that you walked with God?
Application: Memorize 1 Corinthians 15:58. You can call on this during a time of discouragement in your job or in other areas that require your effort. Ask God to see the work you are doing.