Can the things we do for others affect what God does for us—for better or for worse?
We might think the answer is no. God has saved us by grace through faith, not by our works. We can’t influence the heart and hand of the sovereign God of the universe simply by the way we treat other people, can we?
Then again, maybe we can.
In fact, the answer from Scripture is a resounding yes. Our relationships with other people do affect our experience of God. Not because we can earn God’s answers to our prayers (we can’t), and not because God hasn’t already decided what to do (He most surely has).
Rather, the reason why our horizontal relationships with each other affect our vertical experience of God is simply this: That’s how God designed it to be.
God’s love is pure, and His grace is great. The question is, how much of that love and grace will we experience in our own lives? God freely pours out His blessings, but we can receive them only if we allow them to flow through us and out to others.
When God bestows His favor on each of us—good health, blessed finances, unique skills, or relational acumen—He doesn’t do that simply for our own benefit. He does that so that we can be conduits of His blessings to others.
Imagine you’re in a candy store with two of your kids, and you decide to buy one bag of candy for them to share. You pay for the candy, hand the bag to the older child, and ask him to share it with your younger child.
The older child is the steward of the candy, but he’s not the owner. It belongs to both of them because it ultimately belongs to you.
Now imagine that your older child begins hoarding all the candy and refusing to give any to your younger child. What would you do? When the candy ran out, would you refill the bag with more candy and give it to your older child again? Or would you make other arrangements this time?
Your love for your child wouldn’t change. But your child’s experience of your blessing and provision in his life would definitely change.
Similarly, none of us are owners of what we have—our time, talents, or treasures. These things all belong to God. He entrusts them to us so we can use them to advance His kingdom on earth, benefit one another, and glorify Him.
When we don’t align our actions with God’s teaching on how we are to be with one another, we are not removing ourselves from God’s family. We are not cutting ourselves off from Him. But we are limiting the full expression and experience of His presence and goodness in our lives—not because He is mean, but because He is good.
Discover more about what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus in Horizontal Jesus by Tony Evans.