20Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21And he said, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:20-21).
As I write this, I am nearing the end of a fabulous, week-long vacation. Our time has been split between my parents’ house and my aunt’s lake-house. My sons, 2 and 7, have had a great week of connecting with my generation of cousins. There are 15 in my generation and my boys got to meet and spend quality time with 6 of them (including my sister and me) as well as some of my aunts and uncles and my parents and grandmother.
How many people would say they have a restful week-long vacation with their parents? My wife also has had a good time. So many people become adults and have acrimonious relationships with their parents and adult siblings. We have been truly blessed.
And that is really my whole point here – blessing. I have lived a blessed life; the life of Job before Satan got a hold of his possessions, family, and health. So, do I respond as Job did by leading my family in worship and praying for them? YES! And what would happen if I lost it all?
I shudder to even imagine that eventuality!
But, it is worth thinking about. What is the proper theological response to blessing? The book of Job raises theological questions about suffering, but what is a proper theology of prosperity and blessing?
In short, two answers come to mind. The first is thanksgiving. I was sitting with my dad on the back patio. I was reading the Bible and writing in my journal. He was reading the morning comics. We were both enjoying coffee and bacon. When my journal entry was complete, I asked him to pray with me because I always pray when I am done journaling. I thought about the blessing of having a dad, who is a good friend and a brother in Christ, and I thought about all the blessings of the week, and I led us in a prayer of thanksgiving.
Without doing any complicated theology, I think the first response to blessing is to say thanks to God. We don’t wonder why we are blessed and another is not. We thank God.
A second and equally important response to blessing is generosity. A friend of mine, a missionary named Phil, really tipped me on this. I was writing some newsletter pieces for our church about tithing. He said, “You know Rob, the real New Testament teaching about money and giving is generosity.” Jesus and the New Testament writers do not teach us to give 10% of our paychecks. Generosity is modeled, taught, and commanded.
So, all disciples of Jesus are called to extremes in generosity. And our generosity should reflect how “blessed” we have been financially and relationally. We give our money, we open our homes, and we open our hearts. Just as it is unwise to blame God during times of hardship, it is unwise to take credit during times of wealth God. We thank God profusely, and we share the blessing with an extravagant, unending flow of generosity.