…and perspective…

People thank God for their blessings all the time. And we should!

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And yet…From popular social media posts to everyday personal conversations, I often hear people thanking God for all kinds of material blessings…Things like, “I know God blessed me with this house because I’ll be able to sell it for much more than I bought it for in a few years. Have you seen this neighborhood?” Maybe, “On the beach, in Hawaii, all week long – God is so good!” Or, “I’m sitting next to a famous celebrity, on an exclusive resort tour. Look at this place! Praise the Lord!” Or even just, “Oh, it’s so good to finally be able to just do whatever I feel like doing. I put in so much time doing what I had to do. Now I can just do what I love to do. I’m so blessed.”

And all things belong to God, and He is constantly showering His gifts upon us!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

(James 1:17, KJV)

So that’s one perspective. And yet…

Are these blessings actually drawing these people nearer to the Lord in praise and worship and admiration and love of His ways and His kingdom and His glory above all things?

I often suspect that they are not, because the things of this world have a way of drawing our hearts, not nearer the Lord, but further away…

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

(Matthew 6:24, KJV)

…and that’s no blessing. That’s a temptation. And that’s another perspective.

“I will give You authority over all these kingdoms and all their glory,” he said. “For it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish…”

(Luke 4:6, BSB)

This passage has always fascinated me, because the devil is a liar, but he’s a very crafty liar. The thing is, the devil can give the things of this world to people. He’s not lying about that. He’s lying because he’s implying that this is some good gift. But it’s really a trap. The things themselves have no real value, but are only kingdoms and glory that are corrupted by sin and destined for dust.

If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. 

(Luke 4:7, KJV)

And yet, if we accept them from his hand and count them as blessings, choosing the kingdoms of this world and all their glory, then we really enter into this agreement with the devil for our eternal destruction.

But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

(Luke 16:25, KJV)

The rich man in this parable is never said to have been evil. He’s never said to have been a pagan or a murderer or a liar. He is simply and specifically said to have received his good things in his lifetime. We see, of course, that this made him selfish and hard-hearted towards the poor. He desired the kingdoms and glory of the world, and not the kingdom and glory of God. He received many worldly blessings – abundant riches and food and estates. He may have even given God credit for showering him with such great possessions. But what he certainly did was cheerfully accept the gifts that the devil freely offered and enter into destruction.

When we thank God for our blessings, we can thank Him from one of two perspectives.

We can thank Him with a perspective that glorifies the gift, or we can thank Him with a perspective that glorifies the Giver. Both perspectives are true. But it’s so important to choose the right one!

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

(Luke 6:24, BSB)

So, how rich do you have to be to have already received your comfort? I honestly think many people skip right over this caution because they think to themselves, “I’m not rich.” The median price for a new home in the U.S. is around $300,000. In California, it’s over $500,000. Is either of these rich? Neither? Do you have to make a million dollars to be rich? A billion? Soon, a trillion? If you live from paycheck-to-paycheck, does that mean you’re not rich? What if you compare that to someone in another country who lives from mouthful-to-mouthful, with long gaps in between?

The truth is, we are rich and have already received our comfort in this world if our heart is consistently delighted and satisfied in the things of this world.

If we look at all the world’s kingdoms and their glory, the praise and admiration of men and the comforts of homes and cars and vacations and status and experiences, and we choose those things as our blessings and rest content in them, then we have already received our comfort in this world.

If we never take that next step beyond admiring the gift to glorifying the Giver, then we have already received our comfort in this world.

So, on the one hand, I thank the Lord for material blessings all the time.

I thank Him for the incredible gift of fresh asparagus tips, and the opportunity to sauté them in butter and share them around our family table.

I thank Him for a cabin that keeps the rain off our heads and includes the extravagant gift of a woodstove that gives heat in the winter and provides so much joy and cheer with its glass-paned front.

The truth is, we are rich and have already received our comfort in this world if our heart is consistently delighted and satisfied in the things of this world.But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Luke 6:24

The Lord didn’t have to give us these things. They are luxuries, and truly beautiful gifts. But I always want to be careful in my heart that I count my blessings by being overwhelmed with gratitude to the One who gave them.

I sometimes think it would be nice to have “more” of something-or-another. And yet…

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 

(Matthew 19:23-24, KJV)

In truth, every “more” that we receive of material wealth in this life only makes us a bit more of a camel facing the eye of that needle and quickly reminds me, instead, to desire God’s help to be ever-more-content with ever-less!

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

(1 Timothy 6:6-8, KJV)

Because if my blessing stirs my heart to excitement over all the great things that God can give me in this world, then I am walking in a path of temptation…But if my blessing stirs my heart to contemplate the goodness of the God of all creation and long to see the days of His kingdom come, then it is a blessing indeed!

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by Sydney Michalski

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