“Blessings”?

After reading this article, I have stopped using the phrase “blessed” quite so liberally.

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Photo taken at flower dome.

The author recounts how it was almost a knee-jerk reaction to reply to his friend that he was “definitely feeling blessed”. Here are some excerpts from his post which made me reflect:

Last year was the best year yet for my business.

Things are looking busy in 2014.

But that is not a blessing.

I’ve noticed a trend among Christians, myself included, and it troubles me. Our rote response to material windfalls is to call ourselves blessed. Like the “amen” at the end of a prayer.

“This new car is such a blessing.”

“Finally closed on the house. Feeling blessed.”

“Just got back from a mission trip. Realizing how blessed we are here in this country.”

On the surface, the phrase seems harmless. Faithful even. Why wouldn’t I want to give God the glory for everything I have? Isn’t that the right thing to do?

No.

As I reflected on my “feeling blessed” comment, two thoughts came to mind.

First, when I say that my material fortune is the result of God’s blessing, it reduces The Almighty to some sort of sky-bound, wish-granting fairy who spends his days randomly bestowing cars and cash upon his followers.

Second, and more importantly, calling myself blessed because of material good fortune is just plain wrong. For starters, it can be offensive to the hundreds of millions of Christians in the world who live on less than $10 per day. You read that right. Hundreds of millions who receive a single-digit dollar “blessing” per day.

During our year in Guatemala, Gabby and I witnessed first-hand the damage done by the theology of prosperity, where faithful people scraping by to feed their families were simply told they must not be faithful enough. If they were, God would pull them out of their nightmare. Just try harder, and God will show favor.

The problem? Nowhere in scripture are we promised worldly ease in return for our pledge of faith. In fact, the most devout saints from the Bible usually died penniless, receiving a one-way ticket to prison or death by torture.

So my prayer today is that I understand my true blessing. It’s not my house. Or my job. Or my standard of living.

No.

My blessing is this. I know a God who gives hope to the hopeless. I know a God who loves the unlovable. I know a God who comforts the sorrowful. And I know a God who has planted this same power within me. Within all of us.

And for this blessing, may our response always be,

“Use me.”

Since I had this conversation, my new response is simply, “I’m grateful.”

I was really blown away but his words.  It’s really worth reading the entire article. We are indeed blessed, but not because of the things that we have, the good health that we have.  We are blessed simply because we have a Saviour who died for our sins and redeemed for Himself a people who are His very own.

Christ is our blessing.  Nothing more, and nothing less.

The things that we have are granted to us by His grace. And we are stewards of it all.  We are grateful for the clothes that we have, the food on our table, but they are not really blessings from God per se.

The writer talks about what the true definition of who the blessed are, as found in Matthew 5:

1 Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him,

2 And He began to teach them, saying:

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

That certainly turns our conventional, cultural definition of what someone who is ‘blessed’ looks like huh?

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Chrysanthemums and peonies at Flower Dome.

So I have stopped saying that I thank God for His blessings when I’m talking about the good things I have.  Because someone with none of these things is just as blessed by the Lord if he or she is His child.

As the year draws to an end, it is indeed a good practice to ‘count our blessings’ in fostering a heart of gratefulness for the many good things that we have been given to steward, or good health that we are privileged to have. But I suppose in the greater scheme of things, to stop our own minds from associating the material with that comes from God as a sign of His approval, I’d rather disassociate them with the term ‘blessing’.

I am so blessed because of Christ’s work on the cross.  I am blessed in God’s sight if I am merciful, suffer persecution for His sake, or am a peacemaker. God bless you, not with things alone, that moth and rust destroy, but with His gift of salvation and eternal life.

Happy new year, one and all!

 

 

 

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