About a week ago now I read a post on FB that a friend of mine shared. It wasn’t his post…it was from someone I didn’t know and had never heard of. That, in and of itself, didn’t matter. There are a lot of amazing people in the world…who are not just amazing all by themselves…but many are faithful followers of Christ I may never meet this side of heaven….So I read the dude’s post with interest.
I was immediately offended. I know I’m not supposed to be easily offended…but this guy just didn’t get the bigger picture. His premise was that we shouldn’t treat material things as blessings from God. That we should never say…”I feel blest that my business is succeeding” Or…”God blessed me with a wonderful home.” In his view…blessing is reserved for the teaching of Christ we call the Beatitudes. Where blessing is defined in a non-material way. Don’t get me wrong. I am not a prosperity gospel guy in any way shape or form. I lean more towards “if we want to share in the fellowship of Christ’s glory…then we will also participate in the fellowship of his sufferings…”
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2and He began to teach them, saying:
3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
What can we say? This is Christ pronouncing blessing on believers both because of….and despite their circumstances. Let’s call it the blessings of “the becomer.” As I read these, I am often convicted of many of these spiritual “holes” in my life. These are blessings of spiritual character that the child of God should aspire to and portray whether or not there is material gain or loss.
It is in this deep “becoming” that Christ gives us a clear picture of the life he hopes to have us experience “in him.” First for his glory, second for our growth and third, so that the world can see that these character blessings “cut through” the clutter of materialism that the world calls good and counts as success….so that the world can see the true goodness of Christ in us acted out.
This is the core of Godly character and… it’s reward…which has no material component that I can see. And I would agree that God is always more interested in who we are than what we have…but the fact remains that this same Wonderful God, Heavenly Father, lover of our souls is also our provider Jehovah Jireh. And he blesses us with good gifts…yes even material blessings. Not because we either have deserved them or could earn them…but rather because he loves us and wants to give them to us. And sometimes, because we have asked correctly and we don’t simply want to spend them on our wants and pleasures…and because they are in-line with his will for us.
I would encourage you to do a word study on “blessing.” There are more than a couple of ways that God uses that term in scripture. God’s favor is just one.
In talking with (translated ranting to) my wife …she noted that using the word blessing to describe a material things can be dangerous. And I agree. The fact that we live in a comfortable home doesn’t mean that we are any more blessed or loved by God than the person living in a box with a piece of corrugated steel over their heads in the mountains of Guatemala.
We can look at what God has provided in our lives as “blessings” given to us to both enjoy and to use to accomplish God’s purpose for us.
Art DeMoss was a very godly man. He was also a very wealthy man. I was introduced to Art while at LU back in the very early days of the University. Well actually back before it was a university, or even an accredited college. Because of God’s material blessings to Art and his family… and because of his love for God and his work…The Arthur S DeMoss Learning Center stands on the campus of Liberty University. God blessed Art materially so that Art could use those blessings to bless others. If you ever met Art you would see that those material blessings didn’t define him. His love for Christ and desire to serve Him and to be a good steward of God’s blessings was who he was. And THAT was clear to see.
We cannot control who our parents are or where we’re born. Some of us will never be able to control much about our circumstance or world view. But whoever we are and whatever we have is most definitely a blessing of God. We can and should use the “beatitude blessings” to temper our attitudes toward any material blessings we have. And remember that any material blessings we have doesn’t necessarily reflect our spiritual condition.
I just listened to a friend of mine, John Allison, sing a song simply called “Grateful.” It was a farewell song to a church congregation he had been ministering to and with. It was appropriate in a lot of ways. Within the song the “blessings” of God in his life were extolled. From the people he met to the ability to praise God in song. It is a moving 4 minutes. But being grateful doesn’t seem to be enough. There are no “feet” in grateful. As believers we have a mission from Matthew 28 to tell and to teach. And later in scripture we are told “Beautiful are the feet of them who share the good news!” (Isaiah 52:7) And so John shared in word and song then followed by action the next steps that God had made clear to him. That happened to be a move to another area of the country…a different job…another step along his journey with God. And because of that next move with God…I got the chance to meet and get to know he and Lori….just a little. I digress.
Let’s not put God in a box. Let’s not limit God to our small understanding of Him. It IS a blessing from God when your business does well…just as it IS a blessing from God when you gain understanding from a hard trial. It IS a blessing from God when you are able to fix your car or buy a new one…just as it IS a blessing and honor to share with someone how to know Jesus in a real and personal way.
Everything we have, and are is a result of God’s blessing and His grace and His mercy.
Most times I would rather just celebrate that…. than analyze it.
But sometimes we all need that 2X4 smack in head experience to make it clear….uhhh…OUCH!