Are material blessings a sign of God's approval?

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"Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." - James 1:16-17

The Bible tells us that God is a good, good Father who gives us good gifts and provides for all our needs. That said, should we consider all sorts of material blessings as a sign of God's approval for what we have done or what we are planning to do?

Let's talk about that.

When the heart is wrong

I'm sure you've come across the idea that God gives signs to those who ask. In the Bible, we find several people who asked God for a sign before they could ever do something:

Gideon. In Judges 6, we read that God visited Gideon. Gideon, believing that God would not visit him for he was such a lowly man (see Judges 6:15), asked the Lord for a sign (see vv. 17-22). God gave him a sign.

Peter. In Matthew 14 we read of the famous account where Jesus walked on water. Surprised, Peter asked Jesus to confirm who He really was by asking Him to allow him to walk on water as well (see Matthew 14:28). The Lord Jesus obliged, and commanded Peter to walk on the water. Peter, however, sank after a few steps.

Both of them asked God for signs to prove Himself. The normal man would usually think this is fine, but in reality such questions are at times good gauges of our faith.

Gideon looked down on himself too much, so much that he could not believe that God would visit him and call him a "mighty man of valor" (see Judges 6:11-12).

Peter, after being authorized to walk on water, sank because he had "little faith" (see Matthew 14:31).

Ask in faith

Friends, I am not saying that we should not ask God for a sign or a confirmation of His plans. It' fine to do that. Consider Psalm 86:16-17, where David prayed to God,

"Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant, and save the son of Your maidservant. Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me."

David was a man full of faith. He was ridiculed by his brothers, hated by an insecure king, and had to run because the same king wanted him dead. Yet His heart kept turning to the Lord, asking Him to reveal His faithfulness even to those who want him kept low.

A sign of His goodness, not our greatness

Did you notice a pattern in the three examples I gave? God gave Gideon a sign because He had a plan to use him for his purposes. God allowed Peter to walk on water to show who He really is, that He is God over the waters. David, on the other hand, asked God for a sign that would show His faithfulness and love.

Every time God would give a sign, it's because He is good, not because we are great. And so when He blesses us materially, it's not because we are deserving of grace or whatever. It's because He is good and He wants to bless us.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God, including material blessings. But when we set our hearts on the material blessings that He can give, instead of seeking to do His will, we will soon find ourselves going astray with all the wrong motives.

Do not be deceived, friends. Are you looking for God's approval? Then read His word. Everything that He approves and disapproves is written there.