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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Theology of Blessing

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.


  1. Is our blessing in this country due to our founding as a Christian nation with our laws based on Christian scripture? If so is this era of blessing destined to end in our post-Christian culture?

    I agree we should thank God for our blessings and to bless others as we are able. But the message of this passage of Job seems to be that we should also bless the Lord in times of adversity.

  2. Yes - I totally agree; we should bless, worship, and praise God, and not because of what God does for us. We bless, worship, and praise God for one reason; God is worthy. Blessing, worship, and praise are appropriate responses to God.

    And, I will add this. It is not appropriate to look at my circumstances and then decide to bless God. "Oh, I have it good. Ok, now I will bless God." OR, "Things are rough; I better not bless God. God is always to be blessed, worshipped, and praised.

    If my life is blessed, it isn't because of what I have done. It is because God loves me.

    No, America is not blessed because we are descendants of Christendom. God gives blessing out of His grace, not because of our worthiness.

  3. But God blessed Job more than other people.

  4. I love much of what you say. We should praise God, like Job, despite the circumstances. This is not possible for the nonbeliever. To think this would be a discredit to Job and the very basic concept that Jesus is the reason we can do anything.

    It is true that Grace is a special blessing to those who don't profess Jesus Christ and to the believer praise be to God. But believers are also given blessings direct from God.Prov 3:33

    It is difficult to think that God would withhold a blessing, but just read scripture. Over and over again God calls us to obey His commands and receive His blessings. If we sow the seeds of the Spirit we will reap from the Spirit. For those who are disobedient they will reap a harvest sown from flesh.

    God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The new covenant does not wipe away who God is or His desire for us to be obedient.

    This should not seem threatening. Like children, we need to understand right from wrong and the consequences of living a life of sin is not blessings. Job 5:17 Likewise, a nation that lives apart from God will also reap the harvest of transgression. ex: speed, get a ticket. Drive drunk, possibly kill someone. Oh yeah, Wall Street.

    God, in His grace, prevents us from being swept away and gives us a most precious blessing to those who do not yet believe and that is TIME. (Reference Sodom and Gomorrah also Noah and the inhabitants of the promised land) Scripture shows that blessings are given all, believers and non believers. The difference is that for the nonbeliever, blessings come from God through those who follow His commands. Example: Abraham,Isaac and Jacob.

    Jesus is the blessing but only if a person has faith in Christ. As Christians, we are called to be a blessing. We are called to help the sick, the poor, the homeless, the naked. We are the blessing to those who don't know Jesus that those who don't believe might see our light so shine before men that through our good works they might glorify our Father in heaven. We, as Christians, become a blessing to others in both a physical ministry as well as a spiritual through the strength of Christ Jesus. Phil 4:13; John 15:5

    America is blessed because of Christ in America exemplified through Christians in America. We are indeed not worthy, that is Grace but blessings come to those who follow God's commands. If you believe that America would be greater if every person in America were a professing and practicing Christian, then conversly you would have to believe that America would be worse if no one were a professing, practicing Christian. You can't have it both ways. Take Christ out of America and I think we would agree that things would get worse. God will be graceful, but if we are disobedient, we will suffer the wages of sin. Blessings come at a price. Freedom does as well.