What the Lord Requires of You
Based on a sermon by Nathanael Chin—Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,
Parents naturally have certain
expectations towards their children. Today, we have become the children of God
and He is our heavenly Father. Hence, He has specific expectations towards us.
During creation, God created Adam
and Eve, and placed them in the Garden of Eden. God gave them the following
instruction, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not
eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17).
This was God’s requirement of the
first man, Adam. Unfortunately, Adam and his wife did not meet the requirement
of God; they sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Since then, men
have been dwelling in sin.
God also had expectations for the
Israelites because they were His chosen people. Deuteronomy 10:12–13 records,
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord
your God require of you, but to fear the Lord
your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you
today for your good?”
From these two examples, we can
see that God had requirements for His people since the creation of man.
For Christians today, God requires
us to observe the teachings in the Bible. However, we must first have a correct
understanding—what is the principle of God’s requirements? Are His requirements
impossible for us to meet? No! God’s requirements for us are not excessive.
Parents today may impose excessive requirements on their children and have
expectations that are beyond their capabilities, but God’s requirements are
“For if there is first a
willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to
what he does not have.” (2 Cor 8:12)
Although the specific focus of
this verse is on offerings, the underlying principle of God's requirements can
be seen here. Firstly, there must be a “willing mind” with which anything that
is done will be pleasing to God. Secondly, these requirements are based on
“what one has” and do not surpass a person’s ability. Every one is different;
God’s requirements for each person are also different and based on individual
Take for example an elderly man.
If there were a race, we cannot expect this person to run as fast as a young
man. Both men need only to run to the best of their abilities. This is also the
principle of God, which is why the requirements of the Bible are reasonable and
based on individual ability, for God knows what each of us can achieve.
With this principle in mind, what does the Lord require of us today?
“But without faith it is
impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and
that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6)
Faith is the foundation of our
belief. Today, we say that we believe in Jesus in order to enter heaven and
have eternal life. But we have never seen Jesus, heaven, or experienced eternal
life so what makes us believe in them? The answer is simple—faith. This is why
faith is the foundation of our belief.
Through faith, every Christian can
receive grace and blessings. In the time of Jesus, people received grace
because of their faith. There were numerous instances of Jesus commending
certain people for their faith, saying, “Your faith has made you well,” after
they had received grace and were healed (cf. Mk 5:34; 10:52; Lk 17:19).
So what does the Lord require of
us in the aspect of faith? The first requirement can be seen in the first part
of Hebrews 11:6, which states that through faith we are required to “believe
that He is.” In other words, we must believe in the existence of God. This is
of utmost importance, for when we preach the gospel and tell others of God, we
ourselves must believe that there is a God who created the heavens and earth.
If we do not have this conviction, we cannot convince others of the existence
Why is Abraham known as the father
of faith? The Bible records that God reckoned Abraham as righteous because “he
believed in the Lord” (Gen 15:6).
Abraham believed in God and was fully aware of His presence. This recognition
guided his footsteps throughout his life.
Another example is Joseph.
Although he was sold to the foreign land of Egypt, he did not murmur against
God but overcame the temptations of Potiphar’s wife instead.
“How then can I do this great
wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gen 39:9)
Joseph’s statement shows that he
had God in his heart. Hence, he could live a godly life in Egypt. Today, we too
must know that there is God, and this recognition will guide us to lead a
steady and godly life.
The second requirement that can be
seen from Hebrews 11:6 is that we "must believe that … He is a rewarder of
those who diligently seek Him." Not only must we believe in the existence
of God, we must also know He listens to our petitions and rewards those who
seek Him. In doing so, we will learn to rely on Him. We can take Hannah as an
example. She was extremely sorrowful because she was barren. The Bible states
that “her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the
Lord had closed her womb” (1 Sam
Instead of wallowing in her
miseries, Hannah prayed before God when she was in Shiloh. She poured out her
burdens before Him and once this was done, the Bible records how she got up,
went to eat, and was no longer in sorrow because she trusted in God. When she
had a son, she named him Samuel, because “I have asked him from the Lord” (1 Sam 1:20). This was a woman
without any hope of having children. Yet, because she believed in God and was
willing to bring her petition before God, God rewarded her with a son.
Today, what is the stage of our
faith? I believe all of us acknowledge the fact that we believe in the
existence of God, but do we believe that God will reward those who diligently
seek Him? Do we know how to pray to God and rely on Him in the midst of sorrows
In summary, God's requirements
concerning faith are that we acknowledge He exists and believe He rewards those
who diligently seek Him. Are these not reasonable requirements that we are able
“Will a man rob God? Yet you
have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and
offerings." (Mal 3:8–9)
The above verse tells us that the
people of Israel failed to meet the requirements of God in terms of offering
tithes. Hence, God rebuked them through Prophet Malachi. These people even had
the audacity to ask God when they had ever robbed Him.
Today, the offering of tithes is a
basic requirement for Christians. If all of us recognize this and make our
offerings, the house of God will not be short of funds to finance His work. We
need to take heed of the warning of Prophet Malachi and not rob God.
Through offering tithes, we
acknowledge that what we have comes from God. King David, while preparing
materials for the temple, prayed in this manner:
“Both riches and honor come
from You, [a]nd You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your
hand it is to make great [a]nd to give strength to all. But who am I, and who
are my people, [t]hat we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all
things come from You, [a]nd of Your own we have given You.” (1 Chr 29:12,14)
David knew that although he had
offered much, all that he had was from God in the first place.
Do you think that the requirement
of tithing is reasonable? Let’s say we earn $1000, and we offer $100 to God. Is
this reasonable? Applying David’s viewpoint that everything comes from God, the
whole amount of money actually belongs to God. He allows us to use $900, and we
have to return just $100 to Him. If we look at it from this angle, is this not
a reasonable requirement?
“But the end of all things is
at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. As each one
has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the
manifold grace of God.” (1 Pet 4:7,10)
Peter reminds us to put God's gift
into good use by ministering it to each other. Every one of us is a member of
the body of Christ and everyone has a role to play. God has bestowed different
gifts upon us so that we can work together as a common whole.
This is what God requires of us in
terms of the gifts that we have received from Him. Paul reminds us that this
gift is for “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the
edifying of the body of Christ … from whom the whole body, joined and knit
together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by
which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of
itself in love” (Eph 4:12,16).
The different types of gifts that
the members have received are to be “knitted together” to build up the church
of God. There is no place for individualism. For example, if we decide to walk
towards one direction, both our legs and the muscles therein as well as our
torso must all move together towards the same direction. A limb cannot decide
to do something different and refuse to co-operate, or else, the whole body
will not be able to move in a coordinated manner. It is all about concerted
efforts where everyone applies the gifts received from God to work together and
complement each other with the common goal of prospering the church of God.
In addition, Peter exhorts, “If
anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let
him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be
glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion
forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet 4:11).
In all that we do, our goal should
be to glorify God. This is another requirement—that we do not use the gifts
that God bestows upon us to benefit ourselves. Instead, it is required of us to
bring glory to God through our actions. Hence, God bestows different gifts to
His children—so that they can unite their efforts and work towards the common
goal of building up the church and exalting the name of God.
In conclusion, God’s requirements
in terms of faith, offerings, and the ministering of gifts received are
reasonable and within our capability to fulfill. The question is: are we
willing to do so?