The readings for today create the impression that if we do our part, God will bless us. We have a sense of ‘persevere and God will bless you’ in these texts.
In the Old Testament reading Jacob persevered in the struggle and received a blessing. In the Epistle reading Timothy is instructed to ‘continue’ and to ‘be persistent.’ And in the Gospel text we read of the ‘persistent widow.’ So what comes first, God’s grace or our persistence?
Lutherans insist that God’s grace gives us the strength to continue the Christian journey. We live by faith and not works! The Gospel reading teaches this. Jesus draws a contrast between God and the human judge: God will grant justice quickly and willingly, not on the basis of our perseverance, but because of his gracious nature to act on behalf of those in need.
So, we act in response to God’s grace. We are forgiven and so we persist in giving thanks, glory and worship to God. And we are blessed!