One of the clear marks of just how selfish we are is the way we typically and instinctively respond to undeserved blessings from God.
You might think that being given something we didn’t earn and something we didn’t have before would make us more thankful and more generous, but so often it doesn’t. Before we receive the blessing we might think to ourselves if only I had this particular blessing, I would be so happy and I would be so giving, but so often when we receive the blessing, it’s not long until we are dissatisfied with it and it’s remarkable how hard it is to be generous once you have it. Instead, when we receive the blessing, we are so quick to think, well, if I give it away, then how do I know I will ever get it again, maybe I better just wait, until I have more.
God blesses us to be a blessing to others and because it is sometimes so against our sinful nature to actually bless others with the blessing we have received, it’s good sometimes to just step back and think about *some of the reasons why we should seek to be a blessing.
1.) It’s beautiful when we bless others with the blessing we have received from God.
A tree that bears fruit is better than a barren tree, obviously, because it is fulfilling the purpose of a tree. People that use their blessings for others are at least partially fulfilling God’s purpose for them. We were not made to be all about ourselves and when we are all about ourselves we are going against God’s design for us. What’s more, in seeking to be a blessing to others, we are imitating God, and God is the most beautiful person in the universe, and so of course, we are beautifying themselves.
2.) It’s an honor to use the blessings God has given us to bless others.
Jonathan Edwards puts it like this, “When God makes any one a blessing unto others he puts that honour upon them to make them the instruments and vehicles of his mercy and goodness. In order to honor us, He so orders it that his Goodness shall pass to others through our hands…”
We might look at the good angels and say what a privilege to serve God the way they do, and yet, when we serve others, we too are instruments in God’s hands.
3.) It comforts us and brings peace to us when we use the blessings God’s given us to bless others.
Jesus told us that it is more blessed to give than it is to receive. He’s not simply saying there that it is better to give, but that it is more blessed. We actually receive more blessing through giving to others than we do selfishly hoarding things for ourselves. God’s stuffed his commands filled with blessings and the command to bless others with the blessings we have received is just another way for Him to bless us!
Again, Jonathan Edwards notes one of the ways blessings others comforts us. Characteristically, he thinks of how we will feel as we go to die.
“How uncomfortable and dreadfull must it especially be on a death bed to look back on a past life and to have it to consider that he has done little or no good in his life that he has lived…and on the contrary how comfortable must it then be to look back and see a past life filled up with deeds of beneficence and that they have been made blessings in the world while they have lived in it, that while they have lived they have yielded their fruit in due season and that many have partook of and been refreshed with their fruit, that they have been the instruments of supplying others wants and relieving others burdens and refreshing others hearts and doing good to others souls.”
4.) It often causes others to look on us favorably when we use our blessings to bless others.
Even unbelievers tend to respect and be grateful for people who are living their lives for the good of others. While, of course, this isn’t something that our happiness depends on, the respect of others, and in fact, Jesus does tell us that we won’t always have it, if we are truly following him, still, a good name is better than riches and a good reputation is not something we should despise.
5.) It increases our future rewards when we use our blessings to bless others.
This takes faith of course, but we are convinced God keeps His promises, and He has repeatedly promised to remember and reward those who care for others in His name. Think Sermon on the Mount. How often Jesus motivates his followers to give and pray and serve others by pointing them to their heavenly reward.
When God blesses us, let’s pray that we use those blessings to bless others. And more than pray, let’s remember why it’s so good for us to do so. I know that my selfish desires are great at making excuses for hoarding my blessings for myself. The excuses self makes though don’t really hold up and if I am going to use the blessings God’s given me in a way that He intends, I need to learn to do a little arguing with myself by reminding myself of just how sweet it is to use what God’s given me for other people’s good.
(*I have paraphrased a number of the reasons Edwards gives in his sermon on Genesis 12:2, “Blessed to be a Blessing”)