When blessings turn to a curse

We love our ‘blessings,’ don’t we?  I spent the weekend with friends and family and saw the many ways that their lives are overflowing with good things. I rejoiced that God has given them such favor, so many opportunities in life to enjoy the ‘fatness’ of the land, so to speak. I, too, am beyond blessed, with more than enough in every way.  My comfortable car sits outside of my house where I sit in climate-controlled rooms furnished with all that I need and so much more. For all of this I am truly grateful.

However, there is a hidden temptation in the abundance!

In my reading of the Word last night, I came to this passage which spoke directly to my heart and I pray it will to yours as well.  Moses was preparing the nation of Israel for their entry into the Promised Land which was ‘overflowing with milk and honey,’  a place of abundance. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.

Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 8:10-14, NIV)

Before you jump to the conclusion that blessings are bad or that poverty is somehow more ‘spiritual’ than prosperity, let’s be clear about the key point of this passage. It is our attitudes about the blessings that matter most!  Gain that is not ill gotten is no cause for guilt. However, there are important choices to be made in our times of blessing. God desires our gratefulness and He invites us to ongoing choices of worship and obedience.  When life is good, when our bank account is full, we may be tempted to think that life is within our control. Perhaps worse, we can start to think that we have done things to deserve the blessings we enjoy. Both attitudes are spiritually toxic, growing out of an unholy pride.

We may look at those in distress and wonder, what did they do to get themselves in such a mess?  The not so subtle temptation in our good times is to think we are smarter or better in some way than those who are suffering. 

Jesus disciples fell into this all too human trap.  When they saw a blind man along the road, look at their response. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2, NIV)  There is pride hidden in that question, implying their own superiority.  We so quickly succumb to a similar temptation thinking that surely it must be stupid choices, irresponsibility, or laziness that causes the difficulties in another’s life.  While it is true that our choices have consequences, in our blessings we make the wrong choices in concluding that we are somehow better than another or when we blame others entirely for their plight.

Here is a corollary truth – when you are in a time of difficulty, let God do His work in your life.

I don’t like to admit it, but I know that I pray most earnestly when I am driven to my knees by things beyond my control.
I trust God more implicitly when I have no other apparent way to turn.

This prayer written 3000 years ago is so very contemporary and applicable to our lives:

“Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9, NIV)   

Jesus taught us about the deception that can arrive with prosperity – “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:23-24, NIV) The more wealth a person has, the greater the temptation to try to buy satisfaction, solutions, and solace. The very blessings that enrich us in one way, may will impoverish in another.

If you are blessed today, take the counsel of Moses – give thanks and continue in humble devotion. An old phrase I have repeated counsels me – ’We are blessed to be a blessing!’  Conversely, if you are being led along steep, narrow path invite the Spirit of God to grow in you a greater love for Him, a purer faith. By faith, see those trials as teaching wisdom and as the soil in which a greater faith can take root. Also, thank God for compassion for others, something that often comes to us when we are ourselves broken.

The word from the Word is a simple and direct set of commands to the first generation of Believers. May God give us the faith to live in obedience in good times and bad times, equally.
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy.
Encourage those who are timid.
Take tender care of those who are weak.
Be patient with everyone.
See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to everyone else.
Always be joyful. Keep on praying.
No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus
.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14-18, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)


Goodness Of God

I love You Lord
Oh Your mercy never fails me
All my days
I’ve been held in Your hands
From the moment that I wake up
Until I lay my head
I will sing of the goodness of God

All my life You have been faithful
All my life You have been so so good
With every breath that I am able
I will sing of the goodness of God

I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In darkest night
You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a father
I’ve known You as a friend
I have lived in the goodness of God

Your goodness is running after
It’s running after me
Your goodness is running after
It’s running after me
With my life laid down
I’m surrendered now
I give You everything
Your goodness is running after
It’s running after me

Ben Fielding | Brian Johnson | Ed Cash | Jason Ingram | Jenn Johnson

© 2018 Capitol CMG Paragon (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

SHOUT! Music Publishing Australia (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: