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I find I write blog posts more for myself than for anyone else. It is so helpful to be able to go back and look at what God has taught us. Recently, we’ve been wrestling through the concept of God’s blessings so I wanted to start pulling together what we’re learning. I don’t think we’ve really ‘settled’ on solid answers to any question, but I’m not sure we ever really will. Leave your reactions, experiences or musings in the comments! I’d love to continue growing & learning.

Asking the Tough Questions

In what ways has God blessed you? Seeing as we are all within the top percentage of wealth in the world, I think we would probably say something like: a good job, a nice house, family and friends etc. But what happens when your house burns down? What happens when you lose your job? What happens when your family dies in a car accident? Does that mean that God is withdrawing his blessing? Or does that mean that you did something that caused him to curse you? Or does that mean that God isn’t actually a Good Father but he is vindictive and spiteful? Or what about the people who don’t have all of those nice things? Why don’t they receive any of God’s blessings? 

What Does God Value?

I think the reason why I hate the idea of the ‘prosperity gospel’ is because it assumes that God values the things that this world tells us are valuable.  But think of these verses:

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 — But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
  • Philippians 3:8 — …I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ… 
  • Matthew 19:23-24 — Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
  • Matthew 6:19-21 —“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
  • Luke 12:15 — And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

I wonder if God doesn’t always see a big, nice house or lots of money as a blessing because he doesn’t value the things of this world like we do. I’m not saying that he can’t bless us in that way, but I think we need to broaden our definition of what his blessings could look like because I don’t think God’s blessings always look the way we expect them to look.

“We tend to judge God’s goodness based on how well life is working for us rather than on his zeal to make good on his redemptive promises to us.”

Paul Tripp

Free Choice & Obedience

I think part of what makes this question so complicated is the fact that God gave us free will.  Consider this: God wishes that no one should perish, but people are perishing. God grieves when he sees his children suffering, starving and dying at the hands of man… But it still happens. We are broken, sinful people who live in a broken, sinful world surrounded by other broken, sinful people. Decisions are made all the time that can have a positive or negative impact on our life. If someone chooses to get in a car after drinking too much alcohol, the consequences of their actions can affect an innocent bystander. In my fear, jealously or selfishness I can make a decision that affects someone’s livelihood or material wealth (or lack thereof).  The things of this world can pass away in an instant. Therefore, if we tie all of God’s blessings to what isn’t eternal, then we could be setting ourselves up to start questioning his love for us and doubting his goodness when those perceived blessings get affected by a broken, sinful person. And that’s a dark, scary road full of lies, loneliness and bitterness.

These are complicated theological discussions that I won’t go into too deeply right now (mostly for lack of brain-power) but what strikes me about the concept of free will and obedience is this: bad things happen. They just do. And if we live our lives angry at God for the bad things that happen to us we are completely missing the point.

The Ultimate Blessing

The Bible says that God is the giver of good gifts (James 1:17) but if you read that verse in the context of the whole Bible you’ll realize that we aren’t supposed to be fixated on the ‘good gifts’ but instead our eyes are to be fixed on The Giver who gives the good gifts. If you focus on the gift, your object of worship is misplaced and you start to value the things that the world says are valuable instead of what God says are valuable and you just might miss the ultimate Good Gift that he wants to give you.

True blessings don’t look how this would tells us they should look. Think of the martyrs that have gone before us – they died terrible, painful, premature deaths but I don’t think they would see that as God withholding his blessings. I think that they would actually see their death as his blessing because they were given the highest honor – to suffer and die for their Savior! Maybe, just maybe, the closer we draw to God, the more we realize that Jesus is our blessing. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:31-39). No one can snatch us from his hands (John 10). He is our goal, our purpose, our passion. And when our eyes are focused on Him, the things of this world fade away.

Could it be that the greatest blessing that God could give us is himself? The more we spend time with Him and seek after Him we realize that the simple fact of being able to be near Him is our blessing. Whether that happens in poverty or riches, illness or health, on mountains or in valleys, it’s still the sweetest blessing. It’s in that relationship where the hard things of this world become beautiful when done with Him and for Him.

Categories: Life

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