For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
The Apostle Paul's famous words challenge me this week. They're teaching me to redefine the term blessing. As we sit under crushing financial stress, I'm learning that my day to day comfort is unimportant. It's my spiritual state, not my physical one, that matters to God.
Whatever definition the world holds for the term blessing, we can be sure God's definition is opposite.
According to the world, you're blessed if you have....
...a vacation fund.
...a summer house.
...the latest fashions.
...a great personality.
...an advanced education.
...a good job.
...college education savings.
...a big house with nice furniture.
...funds for adventures.
...a good support network.
According to the Lord, you're blessed if you have...
...a heart for the poor.
...a heart of thankfulness.
...a deep devotion to God.
...a poor spirit (from the Beatitudes--"Blessed are the poor in spirit" means you understand your own iniquities, and your deep need for God).
The Beatitudes, from Matthew 5:3-10
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
I'm learning this week that a blessing is that which sets my gaze on the Almighty.
I am blessed!
If one has all the worldly things from the first list, where is their gaze likely to be? Squarely on themselves.
The Rich Young Man (source here)
16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
Jesus replied, “ ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’a and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’b”
21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again 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.”
The unemployment rate is still nearly 10%, so I estimate at least seven of you are experiencing, or have experienced, unemployment or underemployment. The road back to financial stability can be long and arduous. Some, depending on their age and experiences, may never attain the financial footing they previously enjoyed.
Your new lifestyle demands a lot of redefining.
~ If you have plenty, that's only a blessing if you share it.
~ If you have what you need, that's only a blessing if you're thankful.
Look at your circumstances as an opportunity. God has your undivided attention. Listen. Learn. Teach.