I have recently been teaching an Old Testament class about blessings and cursing. These are difficult concepts to teach, and to learn for that matter. Why does God sometimes shower rich blessings, or other times inflict painful periods of curses open mankind? While we know that God uses trials and tribulations to sanctify His people and teach important lessons, we often lose sight of why He chooses to bless us. Here in Latin America, it’s commonplace to here expressions like “Dios te bendiga” (God bless you). And we all indeed like to wish God’s blessings on others and ask God for His blessings on us.
But what exactly are blessings, and do we receive them? First of all, we are very good at identifying material blessings like housing, cars, jobs, cash in the bank, etc. But there are also blessings we overlook like health, physical strength, and even life itself. And then there are the spiritual blessings that we are given in Christ Jesus.
As I have been exploring Scripture, what I have learned is not so much how God blesses His people, but WHY. God is interested in His renown, His fame, and His glory. The blessings that He gives us as so that we can in turn bless and glorify Him.
The analogy occurred to me to consider the letterman jackets that my high school seniors have purchased and have been strutting around school. The jackets here are colorful, costly, and personalized with each students name embroidered on the back. I’ve noted that many of the senior guys, upon receiving, their senior jackets, shared their jackets with certain young ladies in their class. Within days of receiving the jackets, I’ve spotted a few young ladies cheerfully strolling around campus with a slightly misfitted senior jacket bearing some guy’s name.
This exchange of the lettermen jackets represents the blessing. The jacket has an intrinsic value and provides warmth (a bit unnecessary here in Honduras if you ask me), protection from the rain (much more useful in our context), and style. However, ultimately, the novelty of being lent a jacket in this manner is the way in which the jacket suggests certain sentiments or ideas about the relationship between the wearer of the jacket and the fella whose name is on the back. You expect to see the young lady walking alongside and talking to the special senior who gave her the jacket. But in time, it could be that the feelings change and the relationship changes. It won’t be long until the dude asks for his jacket back. The jacket is given, because of and, to communicate the nature of their relationship.
This is absolutely true in the context of God blessing towards the believer. The blessing communicates the nature and status of the relationship. In Scripture, wearing the jacket without the relationship was not God’s idea. Check out Malachi 2, where God addresses the priests who certainly were expected to have a very special relationship with God. He speaks of the blessings that He had extended to them:
"And now, you priests, this warning is for you. If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the Lord Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.”
The second thing to keep in mind about WHY God blesses is so that we can understand His affection for us. It’s not because we’re the most attractive girl in class (forgive the metaphor) or because we’re the brightest, or because we’ve done great things. He picked us to show us His love and to single us before a watching world. Perhaps He is blessing us because we are the least likely to be picked to be in a relationship with Him. Check out this blessing God extended to Israel in Deuteronomy 7:6-7:
For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.
Keep in mind the letterman jacket. How has God blessed you? Are you treasuring the blessings more than Him who has blessed you? Do you allow others to see your blessings and understand that they are a product of your relationship with God?
Be blessed richly today, by Him who blesses beyond measure.
PC: Matthew Allen - Riding his local trails near Tegucigalpa Honduras sporting his FPAM Jersey!