” … the Lord has kept you from honor.”

Interesting words. Have you ever felt that the things God is asking you to do will make your life less than it could be? I think we all feel like God is holding us back at times. Job did. Asaph did. And ultimately, it was this thought that got Adam and Even in trouble. “God and His commands are holding you back” is ever Satan’s whisper in our ear. This lie is especially dangerous is we are living a compromised life already.

Balaam was such a person. He was a pagan soothsayer, but he also had knowledge of the Lord. He knew something was different about the Lord because the Lord didn’t operate like the other powers he interacted with. God had standards and wasn’t moved by bribes or promises of devotion. So when Balak, the king of Moab, tried to hire Balaam to curse Israel, Balaam was very clear that He couldn’t curse Israel if God wouldn’t let him. Three times, Balak tried to bribe God with sacrifices, but each time Balaam ended up pronouncing blessing on Israel instead of cursing.

After the third time, Balak uttered these words to Balaam from Numbers 24:11, “I planned to promote you to great honor, but behold, the Lord has kept you back from honor.” And Balaam fell for it hook, line, and sinker. When he realized he couldn’t get money, power, and fame from Balak by cursing Israel, he told Balak how to get God to punish Israel instead. So, the Moabites sent their young women to the Israelites to tempt them with immorality and idolatry. God sent a plague upon Israel and Balaam was rewarded by Balak. He got exactly what he wanted.

And it cost him his life.

When Israel repented and was restored by God, the Lord called them to fight against the Moabites. They killed all 5 of their kings and Numbers 31:8 mentions this as a postsript: ” … Balaam also, the son of Beor, they slew with the edge of the sword.” What good were the riches, fame, and power now? Any enjoyment of them was shortlived. And that’s how it is with compromise. I might get what I want, but my enjoyment is bittersweet. And I become even more bitter at God because of it.

God never promised me everything my heart desires. He did promise me something else though. Psalm 84:11 says, “No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.” The only thing God holds back from me is something that isn’t beneficial for me.

But how could more money or this great job promotion or this cute girl be bad for me, you might ask? I don’t know, but God does 🙂 And I so thankful for that. I don’t want to buy the lie that my life would be better if I did things my way instead of doing things God’s way. 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I’ve never complained about the blessings I’ve experienced when I ignored the whispers of Satan. I’ve never found happiness when I’ve listened to them. Thank you Jesus for not holding me back, but giving me the best life I could ever have.

Have you thanked Jesus lately for protecting you from the things that look good for you, but aren’t? Take some time to thank God for all the good things He has brought into your life as well! Oh, and read Psalm 73. It will give some perspective on this topic!