There is no doubt about it. God has promised to richly bless those who submit their lives to Him in obedience to His precepts and laws. The Bible is filled with such promises. Take Malachi 3:10, for example, where God says to those who render to Him the part of their income He claims as His (a tithe, or 10 percent): “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this, “says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it.”
Not room enough to receive all the blessings? Do you think that describes your situation?
Again, in Job 36:11 we read that if any obey and serve God, “They shall spend their days in prosperity.” And Psalm 1:3 says of the righteous, “Whatever he does shall prosper.” What about that? Can you say that depicts you?
Some Christians have looked at these, and similar promises in God’s Word, and then looked at their own lives and become discouraged. “But why isn’t God blessing me?” they have asked.
They have looked around them and seen what the Bible calls the “prosperity of the wicked.” Like the writer of Psalm 73, they know God promises to bless the righteous (v. 1).But then when they observe how some of the wicked prosper; they are perplexed and come close to stumbling spiritually (vs. 2-3).
And what is perhaps even harder to endure, they may look at other Christians, maybe Christians who haven’t been converted anywhere near as long as they have and they see how some of them have prospered in a very visible way.
And, yes, they are aware they should not make such comparisons. Still, they have a difficult time rising above such thoughts. These thoughts are especially hard to deal with when one is faced with a pile of unpaid bills, unexpected major automobile or home repairs, sickness or just the desire to purchase something one cannot afford. Does that sound familiar to you?
Let us consider the possibility that you truly are not being blessed as you could be. That can happen. If that is the case, there is a reason. There are causes, and some profound self-examination is certainly called for.
Are you habitually disobeying God in some respect? Disregarding one point in God’s law is, in God’s eyes, the same as disregarding them all (James 2:10).
Are you faithful in following the financial laws found in the Bible? Are you aware of the needs of others, especially the poor? God says He will bless those who generously share what they have with others (Prov. 28:27).
This may seem too fundamental to even mention, but have you asked God to bless you? And more important yet, do you give at least equal time to praying for God’s blessings on others? Including your enemies?
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect before He will bless us materially. But He does want us to be sincerely trying to put into practice the truth we know. He wants us to be working toward perfection. That’s the goal of the Christian life (Matt. 5:48).
But let’s say you are fulfilling all these considerations and you are really growing spiritually, but you still sometimes feel you are not being blessed as you should be. In that case, we have to ask by what standard you are measuring blessings. What gauge are you using? Is the quantity of material goods a person possesses the Christian standard? Are physical objects the primary measure of how much a Christian is blessed? Not according to the Bible!
Let’s get the true perspective on this. Let’s go back to the beginning of our existence. Each of us was conceived and then born at some point in time. Have we done anything to deserve conception and birth? Did we earn childhood? Did we do something to merit adolescence and adulthood? No, we did not! It was given to us.
However long any of us has lived to this moment, we have outlived countless other persons whose lives were cut short before they reached our age. Think of it! The gift of life itself is an enormous undeserved blessing. Anything worthwhile we have, in addition to being alive, is a bonus. It is more than we deserve. What would make any of us think we deserve still more?
If God gives us more, that’s wonderful. But if He doesn’t, we must be careful lest we lose the blessings we have, for if we are so blind to our blessings that we don’t know we have them, that we aren’t deeply thankful for them, God may have to take them from us in order to make us realize and appreciate, perhaps too late, what they were (Ps. 39:11).
What is it that makes a person feel not “blessed”? More often than not such a feeling is a direct result of making the mistake warned against in II Corth. 10:12 - the mistake of comparing oneself with other humans. It is a common blunder. “So and so has more than I have” is the first thought in a rapid-fire mental process that sees casual observation turn into envy, covetousness and dissatisfaction. The person feels not blessed in comparison with how someone else is blessed.
Jesus Christ illustrated this human weakness in a parable about some employees who would have been happy with the amount they were paid for their work. They would have been happy except for one thing: They saw some fellow workers receiving a higher hourly wage than they received. Gratitude vanished. Dissatisfaction, self-pity and pouting set in.
The employer, representing God in the parable, sternly corrected them for their wrong attitudes: “Is it not lawful,” he asked, “for me to do what I wish with my own things” (Matt. 20:1-16)?
All blessings, all good gifts belong to God and come from Him (James 1:17). Who are we to ever question how He chooses to distribute them? It must displease God greatly to see a person pouting for lack of a better television set or an automobile or house or standard of living. If that person’s heart is so set on physical things that he or she carries on like a spoiled child for not having more, one of the most harmful things that could happen to that person would be to be blessed with still more material things.
Such an increase could become a snare, causing that person to even lose out on salvation. Believe it or not, it can be harder for a rich person to stay close to God than for a person who has little in the way of this world’s goods (Luke 18:25).
Consider the disastrous effect wealth had on King Solomon. He had lavish wealth, but it helped to ruin him spiritually because he didn’t use it properly. If it happened to a man of such great wisdom, it could certainly happen to any of us.
“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses,’ Jesus said (Luke 12:15). That is well worth memorizing. Never were those words more important to bear in mind than in this over-commercialized, materialistic age. Don’t set your heart on visible, physical blessing. Instead, seek to be “rich toward God” (v. 21).
The blessings that really count are spiritual blessings, blessings that can’t necessarily even be physically seen, but can be perceived by faith (Heb. 11:1). These are what we ought to have our minds on (Col. 3:2).
All this is not to say God doesn’t physically, materially and financially bless those who submit their lives to Him and seek the right way to better their circumstances. He certainly does. The point is , if He doesn’t do it in the way, to the extent, or at the precise time we think He ought to, we should nevertheless give thanks unceasingly for what we do have (Eph. 5:20).
There is, after all, no promise in the Bible that a person who becomes a Christian will automatically gain great material wealth. The apostle Paul wrote against the notion that “godliness is a meanes of gain.” Rather, he specified, “godliness with contentment is great gain’ (I Tim. 6:5-6). When you get right down to it, what is it that makes an object or an experience a blessing? Is it not that the object or experience promotes well-being and happiness?
“Let your conduct be without covetousness,” Paul wrote on another occasion, “and be content with such things as you have” (Heb. 13:5). Paul knew what he was talking about. Read in II Corinthians 11:23-28 about events that dominated so much of his Christian life, being beaten, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, in constant danger, subjected to hunger, thirst, sleeplessness, to name a few of the trials and deprivations he faced.
Hardly what some would consider being blessed! But Paul thought he was blessed, very blessed “with every spiritual blessing” available in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
Read in Hebrews 11 about saints down through history who were homeless wanderers, destitute, afflicted, tormented, put on trial, sawn in half or otherwise executed (vs. 36-38).These were some of God’s very own people, His chosen and called ones, individuals whom He loved and richly blessed, if you have the eye of faith to see it.
Blessed? By what standard? By the standard that counts most. They had a personal relationship with God Almighty. They had the priceless promise of eternal life. They received inner strength, comfort, joy (even in adversity), hope and all the other fruits of God’s Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Nothing else a person can possess in this physical life really matters. Anything else is expendable, and they knew it.
Wealth? God was their gold and their precious silver (Job 22:23-26). They were indeed blessed. They sought God’s Kingdom first and trusted in Him to add the physical and material blessings when and how it pleased Him (Matt. 6:33, Heb. 11:13). They knew that if they sought to do the will of God before all else, they would someday become inheritors with Jesus Christ of all wealth (Heb. 10:36, James 2:5, Romans 8:17).
Have you been looking too much at what can be seen, the things that are temporary rather than the things that are eternal (II Corin. 4:18)? It’s easy to do. Perhaps a freshened perspective combined with a recount of your blessings is in order. You may be surprised at how much more blessed you are than you had imagined!