Is there anything we can do to encourage the more frequent occurrence of blessings from God for ourselves and others? I have been curious if the source of blessings is freely given to unsuspecting souls or only the privileged few? In other words does God have favorites and therefore bestows his physical blessings like health, money, family and friends and spiritual blessings such as the virtues of joy, love, beauty and tranquility to mention a few.
The word, “blessings” come from an old English word which means, that God will find favor with you. To be favored by God is to be set aside. To be set aside in the eyes of God is to be holy. When someone is holy he is said to have his attention focused on God. Everything he does for himself and for others is influenced by God’s influence.
Biblically the complete opposite of blessings is to be cursed. Being lost is an in between state of being blessed and being cursed. In the parable of the lost sheep,(Lk. 15:3) the sheep is not cursed but is lost. The prodigal son is lost but not cursed (Lk 15:11). In the parable about Dives and Lazarus, Dives is certainly cursed (Lk 16:19).
What is the difference between being lost and being cursed? When we are lost we have a map but do not know where we are on the map. When we are cursed, we have thrown away the map.
In scripture, blessings and curses are related; the book of Deuteronomy prescribes that obedience to the Law of Moses brings God’s blessing. Curses happen when we do not obey the direction of God. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus list His Beatitudes (Luke 6) which are a series of blessings and curses. Jesus outlines, in the Beatitudes, the way we all can receive God’s blessing and of course God’s disfavor.
“20 (Jesus) began to say, “Blessed are [j]you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are [k]you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23 Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to [l]treat the prophets.24 But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25 Woe to you who [m]are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to [n]treat the false prophets in the same way.”
Is Jesus saying that we are blessed when we are in pain and are cursed when we are in pleasure? I would suggest that depends on our disposition towards God. If our disposition is, “God focused” and holy, then we too can enjoy the pleasures and pains of life while still being blessed. A holy woman in labor can suffer much and still have joy with the prospect of hope in bringing new life into the world for God’s purpose. A holy man or woman can have great wealth and receive even more blessings from God by using that wealth in the work of Lord, as the parable of the talents, (Mt. 15:14) or the shrewd steward would teach us (Lk. 16).
One of the first incidences of blessings in the Bible is in Genesis 12:1-2. Abraham is a man of great wealth and is ordered by God to leave his country. God tells him, “I will bless you I will make your name great.”
Abraham was single minded on God throughout his life. He is a man not only of prosperity but of great faith in God. He is willing to surrender his son Isaac his most beloved possession for God’s purpose. Therefore God blesses Abraham to be the father of Isaac and of many nations as well!
Job is another man of wealth, that despite his infirmities and impoverishment he remained faithful to God and was blessed even more so, in the end. As a matter of fact God tells Job that his three friends, who supposedly consoled him during his losses and infirmity, will have to rely on his prayers to find favor from God.
When we are God focused, we can not only receive more blessings, but like Job we can also be a conduit of God’s blessings upon others. On Highway 15 a plumber’s truck passed me by and stenciled on the side of this plumber’s truck were the words, “God’s Love In Action”. This plumber could not only serve my plumbing needs but he has lifted both himself and me to pay attention to God’s purpose. In that sense he has blessed me with his God driven purpose on Highway 15.
May the Lord bless you, and keep you;
May the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May the Lord turn His face to you and grant you peace.