Blessing…What is it good for?
Nothing is more fallacious than wealth. It is a hostile comrade, a domestic enemy.
John Chrysostom, early church father
A few years ago I was talking with a young man who was really interested in God – we’ll the young guy “Brad”. Brad had been talking to a youth worker who was also a Christian. This youth worker told Brad that he had prayed for a vehicle and someone had donated a motorbike to him. Brad thought this was fantastic!
It was obvious that the youth worker believed strongly that God had directly intervened to make this happen. I don’t want to denigrate his obvious gratitude. I think that God can bless us financially or materially. But there are a few things to say about it.
First, any gift we receive from God has no connection to the depth or quality of our faith. We didn’t get it because we prayed better, lived better or sacrificed more. A deeper faith may lead us to realise that our gifts are truly from God, but a deeper faith is not why we received them.
Secondly, any gift we receive is held on behalf of others. That is the meaning of the body of Christ. Gifts are held by us, but God entrusts them to us for the benefit of others. They are not ours.
Thirdly, nowhere in the New Testament do we find God blessing people financially or with material possessions. We find that Jesus blesses people with sight, healing, inclusion, love, justice, forgiveness, but not with material possessions. In the early church, we find the same thing – people give away money, property and possessions rather than receiving them. When property, money or material possessions ARE mentioned, it is to narrate giving them away, guard against their dangers, advise the best use of them or condemn their abuse.
It’s therefore very difficult to argue that God gives us material and financial riches to enjoy for ourselves. Instead, I would argue that when we do find ourselves with material possessions and money, a biblical response is to use them for the wellbeing of others, primarily those without the gifts we have received.
So, I need to ask this youth worker “For what purpose did God give you this motorbike? How can it be a source of blessing for others?”
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