Blessing Without Responsibility

Posted on August 24, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us–that Thy way may be known on the earth, Thy salvation among all nations.” (Psalm 67:1-2)

This initial verse of Psalm 67 expresses a familiar refrain. I have often heard it pronounced as a benediction at the close of a worship service. Having heard a stirring sermon to challenge congregants to faithful service, sang hymns of praise and said our prayers, we are dismissed with these words invoking God’s blessings–”God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause Your face to shine upon us.” We say “Amen” and go home.

This was a prayer often uttered by the Nation of Israel as they appealed for God’s favor and blessing. As should we, they acknowledged their need for God’s grace. They realized they would face trials and challenges from day to day and needed assurance of His blessings. Left to their own sinful inclinations and having to cope with life in their own weakness, they needed God’s help and favor to shine on them.

But why would God choose to bless them and be gracious to them? Was it for their own benefit and prosperity? No. It was so that they might serve Him and fulfill His purpose. God’s desire was that His way would be known throughout the earth and His salvation declared among all nations. Israel had been chosen as His people to fulfill His mission. God would bless them only so they would be a blessing to others.

We have a tendency to seek God’s blessings for the inherent benefit they are to us. We pray for God to bless our family, to prosper our business, to be gracious and protect us from illness and harm, but why? So life would be good, and we would be exempt from stress and trials? We pray for God to bless our church and all its programs, but why? Is it so attendance would grow, our budget would be met, and members would go home encouraged and strengthened by the warm, fuzzy fellowship?

If we are the recipient of God’s blessings, it is for a purpose. His blessings and favor are a way of equipping us to live for Him and serve Him. It is not for our benefit but for His own glory. The Bible is full of assurances of God’s blessings. We thrive on the promises of His love, His ability to provide for our every need, the confidence He will guide our decisions and sustain us in trouble. But it is a distortion to seek His favor and grace without realizing the responsibility it incurs of serving Him and being a channel of blessing to others.

We tend to pick and choose our favorite passages of scripture, underlining and highlighting those that promised God’s blessings while ignoring those who tell us to be His witnesses, to disciple the nations, minister to the poor and take up our cross and follow Him. God’s blessings are assured, but they are not given without an accompanying expectation and responsibility.

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