A friend whose husband had passed away several months ago recently got an amazing blessing. Distant (and well off) family members were looking to invest in property in her area, and they offered to purchase her a home for her retirement years. No cost to her at all! What a blessing! She now has no financial worries for her retirement.
Blessings! Aren’t they great? I imagine you’re like me and the idea of being blessed – period – appeals to you. I love it when people buy me a Christmas gift no matter how large or small it is. I adore it when someone remembers my birthday and blesses me with a visit, a gift, or going out to lunch together. I get a warm feeling inside when I am blessed with any kind of special delivery – cards, flowers, or a surprise UPS box!
However, all of this seems small compared to my friend being blessed by her relative!
But even THAT seems small compared to the thought of being blessed by our Creator – the God of the universe. Now that would be a blessing!
All through scripture we see examples of God blessing people. He blessed them for their obedience. He blessed them for their faith. He blessed them because someone prayed for them. He blessed them because they prayed and requested it of Him. He blessed them because of their heritage – their parents or family line. He blessed them for no reason at all – simply because He chose to.
So my question for you to consider is
What is an appropriate response to a blessing?
Now, if a 4-year-old responds to a birthday gift at his party with, “What? I already have one of these. I don’t want it,” the parents are mortified and realize they haven’t managed to teach that child gratefulness just yet. Not an appropriate response to a blessing. If your dear 90-year-old grandmother responds to your gift to her by putting it away and saving it for later, and then you find it still with the tag on years later, you realize – not an appropriate response to a blessing. But those type of responses are forgiven and understood as errs due to their age.
But what about you? What about me? When I am blessed by my Heavenly Father, do I sometimes act ungratefully? And how about those moments I grumble about what I don’t have rather than appreciate the blessings I do? Do you sometimes put away the blessing that God gave you and never manage to get around to getting it out, using it, sharing it, and blessing others with it? Do we hoard our resources God Has blessed us with? How about times we hoard the Gospel (our greatest blessing) and don’t bother to share it because it’s inconvenient in the moment, or we’re a bit embarrassed, or it’s awkward to know how to start talking to another person, or (insert your excuse here) .
In Genesis 12:2 God says to Abram, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” In these words we see one of God’s purposes for blessing. He blesses us in order for us to be a blessing to others. In God’s economy, He blesses us for a reason. God has a trickle down economy. Contrary to popular politics, a trickle down economy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, at least God’s kind isn’t. He blesses us to bless others. Cause and effect. We benefit. Others benefit. All benefit.
We don’t always see the reason we’ve been blessed. We won’t always know what is going to occur when we in turn bless others. He doesn’t always tell us as He did Abram. When we receive a blessing with open hands we may be a blessing to just one other person, or like Abram, we may be that channel of blessing to a huge group of people. We may never know exactly what will become of it when we bless others. A pastor once explained that it’s like a pipe that God keeps pouring into as long as we keep pouring out the other end and into other people’s lives. Let’s not allow that conduit to get stopped up!
So is your pipe flowing? Are blessings flowing from you to others?
I have seen this pipeline at work many times. Here are a few examples off the top of my head. God blessed a friend at church with financial wisdom that he uses to teach others how to handle their finances wisely. God blessed my sister-in-law with a seminary degree that she uses to bless preschoolers and their parents. He blessed my husband, myself and our children with a run-in with Leukemia which taught our hearts more in one year than I had learned in the 36 years before, and allows us to bless others in similar circumstances with compassion, prayer, and help in their desperate times. He blessed a retired lady I know with time on her hands to go to doctor’s appointments with people and take them meals and be a help in many ways. He blessed my friend Fran with an excellent job and she in turn blesses servers at restaurants with 100% tips. Yes, I said 100%!
What has God blessed you with? And what are you doing with it?
I would challenge you to seek to react to your blessings in a few specific ways.
1) Bless God – Be Grateful. Don’t just take it all in with an attitude. Enjoy. Thank. Be grateful in your heart. Even for the little things. The gas in your tank lasted until payday. Thank you Lord! You got a chance to work on that special project at work you’d hoped for. I’m grateful, Lord! The scholarship came through; you can go back to college. Yes Lord, you are good to me even when I don’t deserve it. Practice the habit of gratefulness and you will find yourself happier in life.
2) Bless Others – Don’t hoard your resources; use what God has blessed you with. Don’t put it on a shelf and save it for a better day. If you have an artistic talent, use it for God’s glory. If you have material resources, spread the material blessings to those who have need. If you have intellectual or writing talents, write Bible lessons or encouraging articles or a book even. If you can sew like my friend Kathy, you give of your free time making special stitched gifts for breast cancer patients.
3) Bless Others – Don’t ignore opportunities; do good whenever it is within your power, even if it’s inconvenient. Things aren’t nearly as accidental as people believe. A person with a need is a divine appointment. Seek the way the Father would want you to respond. My very mechanical husband has a knack for this; if you’ve ever had car trouble within his range of vision, chances are you have been helped, often to the delay of family plans. But that is not bad. Share the skills with which you’ve been blessed.
4) Bless Yourself – Don’t focus on what you don’t have; rejoice in your many blessings. It’s too easy to bemoan what you don’t have and wish you did. This negative, cynical mindset keeps our mind off of the things of God. Break this habit. Change this mindset. When you find yourself thinking or speaking “if only” or “poor me” thoughts and words, replace them with a run down of your blessings! Count your blessings name them one by one!
5) Bless Your Heavenly Father and the World – Get past the awkwardness and share the gospel. Your best gift to the Father is obedience. When you are grateful for His blessings to you, let that be a trigger for you to obey Him. Obey His great commission and “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) Don’t hold back. Be a blessing.
So this evening, as you are settling in for bed and spending a few moments counting your blessings before the Lord, remember to thank Him. Ask Him to show you how you can use what you’ve been blessed with to bless someone around you. You are blessed to be a blessing!