Monday, January 15, 2007

Blessed

How often have you described yourself as "blessed" or described America as "blessed by God"? How often do we pray God's "blessing"on so-and-so? This is a topic that came up in church yesterday, and the discussion blew my mind. It was one of those moments that made me take everything I believed about a topic and throw it out the window and start to look at what the Bible really teaches about being blessed and how I have (once again) been guilty of forming my theology from what I think instead of what the Bible says.

Let me quote some Scripture first:
Ephesians 1:3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (emphasis mine)

Do you see what it says? We are blessed, past tense. We have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing that we need for life and godliness. So why do we pray for someone to be blessed more? They already have all the blessings they need!

I believe it is because we think possessions are blessings. Or peace and comfort. Ponder the starving believers in South Africa, or the persecuted church in China. We think we're blessed compared to them. We aren't suffering persecution or wondering where we will get our next meal. But does this mean we are more "blessed" than they are? Does God love us more than them?

Actually, we are blessed with the same spiritual blessings. My money and ease of life perpetually tempts me to trust myself or my husband's career instead of trusting God. Their lack of money perpetually tempts them to question "Where are you, God?" Really, which is more sinful?

In fact, our growth group leader was sharing about a book he read on the persecuted church in China (I wish I could tell you the name, I will if I find out!). It seems that the true church in China consistently prays for the American church. They perceive us to be infatuated with money and possessions and wonder how it is we can claim the name of Christ while loving our money. So we pray that they might have an easier life and they pray that we wouldn't have such an easy life. Ironic, isn't it?

Stop and take a moment to thank God for giving us all spiritual blessings and then stop and think next time before you pray that someone would be "blessed." Dwell on how blessed we are in Christ, instead of in our possessions.

10 comments:

Rachel said...

Thanks for writing this! You did a great job of unpacking what Pastor mentioned yesterday! I'm putting a link to this entry in my blog so I can share it with people who check my blog.

- Rachel

Sarah said...

That is such an awesome thought, Donette! Why do we want to be blessed more? That will be a mindset I will try to strive for in this new year--enjoying the blessings we are already blessed with!!!

Karen said...

Thanks for your post today. It was such a great reminder to me that I need nothing more to be blessed (especially not worldly "things"). God has already blessed me in Christ beyond comprehension. Nothing more needed! Thanks for the reminder. I love the balance your post has; enough pictures to keep us updated, but enough biblical content to sometimes knock me off my chair!
Karen W.

Morning Rose said...

That's a very interesting post. I've been in the habit of writing "May God richly bless you" on Christmas cards, not realizing that God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing.

We have been reading about the persecuted church in China as well, from publications produced by Gospel for Asia and Voice of the Martyrs. The articles are very convicting and humbling, as we realize what is important in life and how materialistic we are in America.

This contrast was highlighted when Dr. Tony Fox visited our church to present his ministry of teaching and training Chinese pastors in the Word. We were all deeply touched as we watched the presentation and heard the testimonies of Chinese Christians. We can offer the Chinese our knowledge, while they in turn inspire us with their zeal for the Lord.

Gretchen said...

Nettie, you are SO right! I had heard that about the church in China. I fail so often in thinking that comfort and financial gain are the only blessings.

Here's my question: What do we call God's gifts of possessions or money at just the right time. I refer to the laptop I just got yesterday, the day AFTER we found out we couldn't keep ours. Josh's dad had just bought it and offered it to us when he found out we needed one. Perfect timing! A Providential material blessing! So what should I call that? I truly endeavor NOT to pray for "blessing" except spiritual blessings, or in the case of a dire need (and then it is under the Sovereignty of God). Thanks for starting this conversation and thinking in this direction!

Donette said...

Hey Everyone,
Thanks so much for you comments. I am glad the post has "blessed" you!

Morning Rose, I think writing "may God richly bless you" on an unbeliever's card is a great idea! We do want them to experience God's spiritual blessings! As for believers, maybe a comment like "May you glorify God for all the blessings he has given you" would be an appropriate response. Just an idea.

Gret, that is a great question! I wish I had an answer. I don't think we can say that God providing our material needs are not blessings. He knows what the sparrow needs and he provides it, how much more will he do that for us! Thank God for providing for your need, but hesitate to make your material needs on the same level as our spiritual needs. (I know you aren't doing this!) Many exist without half of what we utilize on any given day.

I think it is more about a heart check and change of vocabulary. Do we only picture all of our material things as our blessings from God? Do we wish God to give us more "blessings" in the form of earthly possessions? The discussion really made me evaluate my heart when it comes to what I picture as a "blessing" from God. Does that answer your question? Or just bring up more? :)

Rachel said...

I tagged you - check my blog for details

Morning Rose said...

What do you think about saying "Bless you" when someone sneezes or writing "Peace and blessings" when signing an email?

Donette said...

It's funny that you mention "bless you" as a response to a sneeze. Elijah has a cold right now, and after I wrote the post I realized how often I say that exact phrase! I see it as an idiomatic expression, devoid of the historical meaning of the phrase (something about evil spirits entering your body). Use it or don't, I don't think it makes a difference.

As for "peace and blessings," I don't think we need to take the word "blessing" out of our vocabulary, just use some more discernment when saying it. It involves a heart check and mind change as to what blessings really are. They can be physical, but if we never experience the physical blessings that others may get, we should be OK! We have everything we need in Christ. And asking constantly for physical blessings from God should cause us to stop and think about what He has already given us.

These are just my thoughts. I don't claim to have all the answers, but it is great to get into the discussion!

Hindto said...

Hello! What an interesting post, only because our small group studied this very thing in depth while going through Ephesians. Upon studying it, we came to the very same conclusion. God has already blessed us with every spritual blessing we need for life and godliness. All we need and yet we sit and ask for more blessing. I really appreciated this thoughtful post that shows the heart of someone really following the Gospel rather than man.