Remember the rich young man who asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life? He was a good man who had kept all the commandments since he was a youth. We might say the rich young man had a “blessed” life. Some might even conclude that the one thing preceded the other—that he had everything he wanted because he was a good man. I imagine he thought so, too. He came to Jesus probably thinking that Jesus would simply “bless” him with the one thing he did not have because, after all, he was a very good man.
But Jesus shocked him (and the disciples) by telling him this: “Go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (1)
What? 😦 Give away all his “blessings”? Why? Because his “blessings” were actually the thing that was standing in the way of his following Jesus. You might say his “blessings” were really a curse. 😲 Sometimes the things that we love, the things we call “blessings,” are simply things-we-like-about-our-lives. But they may have nothing to do with God’s purpose. And they might actually be standing in the way of God’s purpose!
It feels good and right to say that God has blessed us with things. But where in scripture does Jesus ever bless anyone with “things”? And for those who do not have those things and wish they did, it is painful to hear about how “blessed” others are! 😟 It only makes them wonder why they have not been “blessed”! We should be thankful for all that God gives us but to call things a “blessing” is to ostracize others who have not been “blessed” with that thing. I wonder if what we are really doing is simply bragging about our lives. It seems to me that when we say we are “blessed” by God, we are not focusing on how great God is as much as we are bringing attention to how great we have it. 😕
These are hard words, I know. But when was following Jesus ever easy? 🙄 The point of our lives (once we have given our lives to God) is “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (2) That’s it. And that has nothing to do with things-we-like-about-our-lives.
So, does God not want us to be happy? Of course, he does!! But God knows that many things-we-like-about-our-lives are not blessings at all. Oh, they may give us pleasure for a while but not for long. And they may actually distract us from his purpose! God longs to give us good things. Jesus is not anti-riches! He actually told the rich young man he would give him treasure! In effect, he said, “Hey! If you want treasure, I’ll show you treasure! Come, follow me!”
But the rich young man wanted his treasure right then. He couldn’t wait. So he walked away “disheartened” and “sorrowful” because his idea of treasure was vastly different than Jesus’. But mostly he walked away because he didn’t want to give away his treasure, his “blessings,” and wait for Jesus’ treasure.
And so. 🤨 Those of us who do not feel “blessed”—who are wishing for things-we-believe-would-make-us-happy—should take heart—not be disheartened. We just need to follow Jesus. True blessings await those who do. “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.” (3)
1) Mark 10:21 2) Romans 8:29 3) Psalm 27:14