Blessed to Be a Blessing

     A parishioner came into my office awhile back and asked the biblical idea of being blessed to be a blessing. She had run across the theme in the Bethel Bible Series at her old church and wanted to know if there was a specific biblical reference for the idea. I remarked that it probably came from Genesis: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (12:2), but that the idea was so common in God’s dealings with us that no specific reference was needed. Upon further exploration, I found that “bless” occurs 122 times in 112 verses; “blessed” occurs 259 times in 244 verses; and “blessing” occurs 78 times in 73 verses in the New Revised Stand Version of the Bible. Only “love” occurs more times and occupies a more central position in our faith. Indeed, even “faith” and “hope” occur fewer times in the Bible.

     Here, at Neighborhood Congregational Church, we are truly a blessed people. By global standards, we have been blessed with great wealth and personal security, we have comfortable homes, good educational opportunities, and we enjoy the freedom to worship God any way we choose. We have been blessed with access to excellent health care, and a government safety net if financial or medical catastrophe strikes. God blesses us because God loves us. But with great blessing comes great responsibility. God blesses us to be a blessing to others. God blesses us so that we might be a people of blessing. Are we living up to our responsibilities? Do we even know what they are?

     When I have led youth group discussions on salvation, boys and girls generally approach the idea of getting to heaven from different starting points. The boys want to know how good they have to be in order to make it into heaven. The girls want to know how bad they can be and still get in. Both want to know where the magic cut off point is so that they can either just cross it or approach it without going too far. It is human nature to push the envelope, but it doesn’t make for faithful living.

     Are we doing enough when we pay our taxes (grudgingly), because these taxes take care of our citizens when catastrophe strikes? Are we doing enough when we put $10 in the plate 30 -40 Sundays a year? I am guessing that this turns out to be 1% or less of our annual incomes. Is that level of giving capable of supporting ministries that will be a blessing to our youth, our seniors, our young families, and to those in need beyond these walls? Personally, I don’t see how. Jesus tells us: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48).

     What we give back to God is a personal decision, but it has consequences if our congregation wishes to bless others as we have been richly blessed.

     Yours on the journey,

     Pastor B. J.