Read Psalm 67.
There’s a part of town that I really try to avoid if I can; driving through it tends to make me feel a little sick to my stomach. Thankfully, I know many Christians who live in this part of town and are being lights for Jesus, but, boy, the depravity of man is evident in this particular area.
No, I’m not talking about the projects or a densely populated urban community. In fact, I’m talking about one of the most desirable parts of our area; if you live in this particular community, you know “you’ve made it.” Yet when I drive around and see these large and shiny houses, or when I shop in the local stores, I don’t see a microcosm of heaven at all. The words that come to mind are “vapid” or "empty." Almost everyone is white, middle-aged, thin, well-dressed, sipping on wine, and they drone on about entertainment or travel or careers. I went to school with kids from these neighborhoods, and I was always jealous of their clothes and gadgets and vacations, but I have never desired the distrusting and distant dynamics of their families.
This part of town reminds me of the church in Laodicea, to whom Jesus says: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17.) Biblically speaking, “rich” is a relative term, and oftentimes those we would consider “rich” in this world are actually dirt-poor. The true poverty we see in affluent but Christless people is heartbreaking.
So when you read Psalm 67, remember that praying that God will “bless” you is not necessarily asking for health and fortune. Sure, God’s promise to Abraham---and God’s restoration of Job---did materialize into land and flocks and tangible success. But Jesus in Matthew 5 paints a different portrait of blessedness than physical comforts: being poor in spirit, mourning, possessing meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, showing mercy, being pure in heart, making peace, experiencing persecution for righteousness’ sake, and being reviled.
Hopefully from this series of posts you're seeing clearly from scripture that we as Christians are the most privileged people on the planet because we get to know God. You probably know what true blessedness means. I just wish to add an important concept to our idea of being blessed by God that is made clear in verses 1 and 2 of today’s scripture.
Why does the psalmist ask for God to be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us?
That His way may be known on earth.
Our blessings are so much bigger than ourselves! This shouldn’t cause us to feel like God’s kindness to us is impersonal (He refers to Himself as our heavenly Father giving good gifts to His children; Matthew 7: 11 and James 1:17.) But we also shouldn’t think His blessing ends with us.
Let’s revisit God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. God says “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great.” Sure enough, God gave Abraham land and posterity and reputation. But the second part of verse 2 says, “so that you will be a blessing.” In verse 3 God promises that through Abraham, all the families of the earth will be blessed. Indeed, even as non-Jewish Christians, we are greatly blessed by God’s blessing to Abraham, because that promised son Isaac ended up being the great-great-great-great-etc. grandfather of Jesus, who is our very hope and salvation!
God’s kindness to His people resounds not only to our neighbors but to the world. (As Psalm 67 says, “Let the nations be glad!”) In Joshua 2, non-Israelite Rahab told the Israelite spies that she knew the LORD had given them the land and that she had heard about how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea and given them military success over many kings. In vs 11 she says, “And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” When we read stories of how God helped His people escape Egypt or defeat mighty armies, we rightly think, “God is good to Israel!” But through His kindness to His people He also makes Himself known to those who hear of His good works; in this case, Rahab of Jericho.
Reflect on God’s kindness to you. Unfortunately, many of us might think “Wow, we’ve got it made!” and maybe we are even aware that “God has blessed us!”, but we might stop there and continue to just enjoy our happy lives for ourselves. The blessing is not supposed to end with us! Psalm 67 and elsewhere makes it plain that God has blessed us so that others may know Him. If you have learned much from the LORD, you are now equipped to share much with others. For example, God comforts us so we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4.)
Our joy is multiplied when we welcome others into it. In John 4 when Jesus was preparing his disciples for the “harvest” they were about to experience as they had the opportunity to lead many Samaritans to Christ, He says “Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.” Sharing the love of Christ with others is supposed to cause deep joy for everyone involved.
So praise the Lord for how He’s blessed you today. But then consider how He might be blessing you with Himself so you can bless others with Him. He has more glorious things in mind than dropping off soup cans once a year :)
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising four little people ages 1,3, and 5, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and Coke icees, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
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Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today