The blessing of God is not to be taken lightly. But in our day, blessings are thrown around so flippantly and indiscriminately that the word “blessing” has all but lost its meaning. People speak about feeling blessed and having a blessed day or a blessed life when everything is going well and nothing too severe is bothering them in the moment. We hear blessings after sneezes, at the end of voicemail messages, as hashtags in social media posts, and on bumper stickers.
In these United States, the statement “God bless America” used to be a prayer of humble dependence, but now it is often treated as an arrogant, presumptuous declaration that God will bless us no matter what we do as a nation. God has blessed, and God does bless, and we pray that God will bless, but we must remember that His blessings are serious things, and we are not to treat them frivolously. God takes His blessing seriously, and so should we. God doesn’t bless people flippantly and He doesn’t bless indiscriminately—He blesses His people according to His steadfast covenant love for us. Not everyone is blessed, and God’s blessing shouldn’t simply be assumed. Only those who are in covenant with God are blessed, and only those who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ are blessed, for He met the condition by His perfect life and substitutionary atoning death. Only those united to Christ by faith are blessed. As believers, we are blessed in Christ because Christ took the curse of sin for us and suffered the wrath of God for us. If someone is not in Christ, and never trusts Christ, he will prove that he is condemned already. His apparent blessings will ultimately redound to his condemnation.
If we are truly in Christ, we will strive to bear the fruit of Christ. If we believe the gospel, we will strive to walk worthy of the gospel. If we have the Spirit, we will strive to walk in the Spirit. If we love Christ, we will strive to follow and obey Christ. If we love God, we will strive to keep God’s commandments. If we are blessed, we will strive to possess and pursue the characteristics Jesus speaks of in the Beatitudes, and as we demonstrate them in this world, we will be persecuted. But if we are self-absorbed, self-centred, hard-hearted, unmerciful, divisive, and arrogant, then we not only aren’t blessed, we aren’t saved. But if the conditions and characteristics of the Beatitudes are true of us, we are blessed. We can have assurance that Jesus is ours and we are His, and that nothing can separate us from the present or eternal condition of being blessed as we live coram Deo, before our Lord’s shining face with the light of His glorious countenance lifted up upon us
Dr. Burk Parsons is senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., chief publishing officer for Ligonier Ministries, editor of Tabletalk magazine, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow.
First published June 1st, 2017 in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier.
© Tabletalk magazine. Used with permission.