Spiritual Bribery

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[a]She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.  Luke 2:36-38...."You can only wait when you've said 'yes' to the ministry of hope." Alicia Britt Chole

 

Luke 2 tells of two people who had spent their lives looking for the coming of the promised Messiah; Simeon and Anna. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him in the Temple, first Simeon, and then Anna, recognized exactly who He was; the Father's promised Savior and Messiah. They had both spent years, a lifetime really, seeking the heart of the Father, crying out for the fulfillment of His promise. Here in their old age, after so long a wait, that promise was complete. After years of seeing nothing, possibly hearing nothing, the Messiah had come. All those years of silence, yet in them all, they continued to offer worship unto Him. Very likely their emotions in all of it rose and fell, but their worship never did. Both Simeon and Anna longed for the fulfillment of His promise, yet their worship of Him was true even in the absence of that fulfillment. As Chole puts it, their priority in worship was not just to get something from Him, but to give all to Him. Do you and I walk in that same kind of emphasis? They said "yes" to that ministry of hope, and I am sure they believed they would not leave this life until they beheld their Messiah. Yet I also believe that their worship of Him would have been no less full and complete had they died in their hope. They didn't see worship as a "transaction" between they and the Father. Worship was as much a part of their life as inhaling the air around them. Worship was their life. They didn't just want to see the answer, they wanted to see Him...and they did. That's always the yield of true worship.

How much of what we call "worship," "prayer," is really nothing more than a kind of spiritual bribery, a transaction between God and us? I have heard and read people talking about praise, thanksgiving, and prayer, as being keys in our getting God to empower our agendas, desires, and visions. We see in His Word how when the people went into battle, they sent the musicians and singers ahead, loudly praising the Father. The result was victory in that battle. Our takeaway on that is that if we do the same, then victory will also be ours. The same with the giving of thanks, the offerings of prayer, and so on. What we miss, what we're blind to, is the actual heart motivation for all of them. Conscious of it or not, we're seeing all of it as a transaction with Him....as spiritual bribery. Buying God's help by giving Him what we think He wants. Say the right words, do the right things, and then get the right results from His hand. Such was unknown to Simeon and Anna. They waited with a living hope in Him. That hope in Him was a ministry to Him. They looked for the answer, the Messiah, but they could do so because each day, they were looking for and finding Him, in worship. Have we such a living hope, or do we just see things like prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and so on as Christian "tools" to be used to open the door to a God who requires us to cover all the bases in getting Him to come through for us. A worship transaction. Spiritual bribery.

Simon the magician, a professing convert to Christ, beheld the miracles performed by Peter in the name of Christ. He asked if he could buy the power to do the same. Peter replied, "May your silver perish with you." I heard a pastor once translate this more loosely as, "To hell with you and your money." I expect both give us a clear idea of how the Father views such transactional worship. As concerns our heart motivations, how much of our worship is only that? 

Blessings,
Pastor O

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