During the 1924 summer Olympics, a runner by the name of Eric Liddell was faced with a choice that would test his devotion to God. When Liddell’s best event (the 100-meter) was scheduled for Sunday, Liddell withdrew from the race. Liddell chose to honor the Lord’s Day rather than compete in the race. Since he could not compete in the 100-meter race, Liddell chose to participate in the 400-meter race instead. When the day of the race came, and as Liddell was making his way to the starting blocks, a man walked up to him and handed him a small piece of paper that read, “In the old book it says: He who honors me, I will honor (1 Samuel 2:30).” Liddell ran the race with the paper in his hand and would go on to win the gold medal in the 400-meter race and break the existing world record. Liddell made a choice that honoring God was the most important thing he could do. God blessed Liddell and used him in a great way to be a testimony for Christ to the world.
In Deuteronomy 28, the Israelites were given a preview of what would happen to them if they chose to honor or dishonor God. God made it clear that his promise of blessing was conditional upon their obedience to God’s covenant. God said, “If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee…” (28:1-2). In verses 3-14, the Bible lists the various ways that the people of Israel would be blessed. In the same chapter, God promised that if they broke His covenant that they would be cursed by God and forfeit the blessings.
Although these covenantal blessings apply specifically to the nation of Israel, the same principle– that obeying God brings blessing—is seen all throughout the Scripture. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ explained that it would be the “poor in spirit,” “they that mourn,” “the meek,” “they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness,” “the merciful,” “the pure in heart,” “the peacemakers,” and “they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” that would receive God’s blessing. This idea of blessing does not mean that the people of God will never suffer. Nor does it mean that one will prosper materially. Rather, it means, that although we will suffer, God is pouring out His blessing by working all things together for our good. If we desire the blessing of God, we must align our hearts with His perfect and holy will. He must receive our honor. For God declares that “them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30). Everyday we are faced with decisions and our response to them will reveal who we honor.