One person sneezes and another says, “God bless you.” Someone is diagnosed with a serious illness and we quietly pray, “God, please bless them.” An Olympic athlete from the USA wins gold and during the national anthem we proudly think, “God bless America.” We seem to naturally link God and blessing.
And the Bible agrees. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17) God really is the source of everything good, every true blessing. And the Bible goes on to describe a God who loves to pour blessings out on people. It shows a savior named Jesus who loves to heal the sick, raise the dead, and provide food for the hungry. And it promises a heavenly future filled with blessings.
Blessing or Punishment?
But in that same holy book we also see God punishing evil. “Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41) And, “Assuredly, the evil man will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 11:21)
So which is it—blessing or punishment? Well, God isn’t bipolar or random in his actions. The Bible is actually very clear on this, and here it is in a nutshell: God loves to bless, but his blessings come on his own terms.
The prophet Isaiah, speaking God’s words, says, “But as for you who forsake the Lord… My servants will eat, but you will go hungry; My servants will drink, but you will go thirsty; My servants will rejoice, but you will be put to shame.” (Isaiah 65:11, 13) The blessings of provision and joy, and much more, are made available to everyone—but first God has certain requirements. We must not forsake him and we must willingly make ourselves his servants. In other words, we should turn to him daily, obey him and his written Word—the Bible. We should make it our main aim in life to do whatever he asks us to do. Then the way is open to receive his blessings.
Door Number One or Door Number Two?
For decades, TV game show hosts have asked contestants to pick which door they want opened. Usually behind one door is something good (a blessing!) and behind the other, something not so good (a “curse”). The trouble is, those doors have no windows! You’re guessing blindly.
God, however, is very up front. He clearly tells us that behind door number one is blessing and behind door number two is a curse. So which would you prefer? It seems like one of those “duh” moments, doesn’t it? But again, here’s the “catch:” the key to unlocking door number one is by living the way he wants us to live—being his servants, not forsaking him or his ways.
Some of us are very stubborn. We think, “I’m going to get those blessings and I’m going to get them my way.” So we proudly—and foolishly—pit ourselves against the God who created and rules the universe! We try to pick the lock to door number one, or kick it open, or we look for an open window. Some of us work at it for years before we finally have to admit to ourselves that we don’t stand a chance of tricking or beating God. And why did we ever think we did?
I Did It God’s Way
When we humbly come to God on his terms and start living life his way, we find a much better way of life. The God who loves to bless and the people who need his blessings connect, and what follows is rich and fulfilling. This is life the way it was meant to be.
Of course, it doesn’t mean our every desire is plopped into our laps from now on. God doesn’t become the genie to grant our wishes. But he does bless. Instead of fabulous riches we might be blessed with a steady income and cars that last a long time. Instead of fame we might be blessed with good friends and a good church. Instead of every toy we’d love to own we might be blessed with contentment and joy. And all the blessings of heaven await!
Frank Sinatra bragged that he did it his way, but a wise person will eventually have to admit that it’s best to do it God’s way. That kind of attitude opens God’s giving hands. “He opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” (Proverbs 3:34) Which would you rather have—his opposition or his grace?
The Purpose of Blessing
But there is another aspect to all this. God actually blesses us for two reasons: One, because he loves seeing his people content and provided for; and two, so we can be a blessing to others.
God told Abraham in Genesis, chapter 12, verse 2, “I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” If Abraham was obedient to God he would be blessed, but he would also become a blessing to others.
We should not be “blessing hoarders.” We’re not blessed simply so we can sit back in our easy chairs and sigh contentedly. God wants us to bring his blessings into a hurting world. He wants us to share his love with everyone around us.
So reach out and take hold of this God who loves to bless. Live life his way, and when the blessings come, share them with the world.
About the author
Mike Anderson majored in Bible at the University of Northwestern and has been a student of the Bible his whole adult life. He is newly retired and still learning the ropes. At First Evangelical Free Church he teaches 5th grade Sunday school and co-leads a small group. He enjoys biking, reading, writing, and hiking. Mike and his wife Debbie make their home in Lake Elmo and enjoy having all of their kids and grandkids in the Twin Cities area.