I recently read an article that stated we should stop saying we are blessed when things are going our way. That by using such verbiage, we are insulting or disrespecting all of those in the world that are poor or in dire straits. While I agree with the author’s overall sentiment, I must take issue with certain points.
Since when did the concept of blessing become equated with the gain of money or the lack of trouble? The Bible tells us that we should thank God in all situations (1 Thess 5:18, Eph 5:20), to take joy in our suffering because it produces a sincere faith (Rom 5:3-5, 1 Pet 1:7), and that we can expect trials and tribulations (John 16:33). We don’t like to take joy in our suffering, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t, and likewise, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t acknowledge our “blessings” when they’re given.
I think the author’s overall sentiment, which I absolutely agree with, was to point out the flaws tied to prosperity theology. But I disagree that we shouldn’t consider our good fortunes and gifts as the blessings they are and not thank Him from which they came. The author was mistaken in his assertion that God doesn’t perform acts of positive reinforcement, and it is a mistake to limit Him by our ideas of what He would deem appropriate for our instruction. (Mark 10:29–“no one who has left home…for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age,” Matt 25’s parable of the talents, Mark 4:25–“Whoever has will be given more,” 2 Cor 9:6–“whoever sows generously will also reap generously,” Mal 3:10–“Test me in this…and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it,” Eph 6:8–“the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does,” Heb 12:10–“God disciplines us,” and many more). These examples are by no means aimed at, or limited to wealth and prosperity, but toward a positive prodding to strengthen our faith in Him and His promises. They’re aimed toward us knowing that we have a loving savior that is able to shower us with gifts in many different forms, at many different times and in ways we often take for granted and attribute to the wrong sources. They’re aimed at us recognizing and counting our blessings.
All good things come from God (James 1:17). He knows what we need, he knows how to bless each of us, and he knows what will cause us to stumble (Matt 6:25-34). To some, money and possessions are doorways to sin, failure, and separation from God…a means to be our own source of inspiration (Matt 6:19-24). But God does not tempt us (James 1:13), so those “gifts” didn’t come from Him, they came from the great tempter knowing what we hold dearer to our hearts–God or money. In those cases, wealth is not a blessing, but a curse and stumbling block. Our true gifts are those which we use for good, to help others, to come closer to our savior and be fruitful in our lives. Those gifts, in whatever form–discipline, monetary, or not–are blessings and we must give thanks for them…regardless of perceived insult or injury to others. We must take the time and have the proper heart to consider our blessings as such. The author states that “we are grateful” is an adequate enough statement, but that negates the gift or instruction…what are we thankful for? Our blessings.
There are great blessings bestowed upon those who are “poor” in this world: they are not tied down or held back by material wealth and can instead, if they choose, focus on their spiritual wealth (Mark 10:23-25, 1 Tim 6:9-10,17, Luke’s parable of the rich fool). They are not any less blessed than those who have been given worldly wealth; they are blessed with clarity, faith and hope…what they need…what we all need. Money is not evil, it is the root of all evil because of the importance we place upon it. James 2:5–“Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom.” Their blessings are magnificently tailored to the poor and their needs…that’s the incredible nature of our savior.
We should absolutely stop attributing our blessings to ourselves, our incomes, our provisions. We should absolutely stop saying we are blessed if our hearts are considering our monetary wealth. But we should never stop thanking Him through which we live, survive and hope for a better tomorrow. We should never stop thanking Him for our daily sustenance and correction, and consider them blessings, no matter what form they come in!
He gives to each as he sees fit, it’s up to us and our hearts to sort out the thanksgivings. Do we attribute our circumstances to fate, luck, chance…or do we give thanks to Him? Our hearts are what determines a blessing, not our money or lack of it.
“The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it.” Prov 10:22