Let’s explore one of my favorite scriptures in Abraham’s story as God promises to bless him to be a blessing. We are going to discover that our blessings, like Abraham’s, are not just for us but are to be used to bless others. In the opening verses of Genesis 12:1-2, the Lord tells Abram, later to be called Abraham: “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Notice that God’s promise to Abraham is accompanied by a further explanation. The Lord’s blessing of Abraham is just the first step in God’s divine plan to extend blessing through Abraham to all the peoples of the earth.
No doubt God intended to bless Abraham and his descendants but never meant for his blessing to be exclusive. God’s selection of Abraham and his descendants out of the humanity who had strayed far from Him was a tactical move. God’s decision to call Abraham and later the setting apart of the nation of Israel was not the end itself, but a means to an end. What am I getting at here? God did not bless Abraham simply to bless Abraham. God did not establish Israel as a nation and bless them with a unique revelation through His word and presence to simply bless Israel. In fact, God has not blessed any of us who are part of His church to simply bless us. God blesses us to be a blessing. Blessings flow from God, but they should never stay with us. They come to us, then flow through us.
In seminary, I was able to sit in a class where noted missionary and missiologist Don Richardson spoke. He referred to these twin promises in Genesis 12:1-2 as the top line (“I will bless you”) and bottom line (“and you will be a blessing”). They remind us that everything we have received from God is ultimately to be used to glorify God, yes, bless us, and for the benefit of other people. These “other people” especially include those yet to receive Christ as Lord and Savior, in the hope that they will enter into a saving relationship with the Lord. So, again, we are blessed to be a blessing.
Here are some blessings, to name a few, for us to consider. First, think about comfort (2 Cor 1:3-4), forgiveness (Col 3:13), and love (1John 4:11). We receive these from the Lord so that, in part, we can share them with others. Next, consider justice and charity (Prov 27-28). We are to do good by using the resources and influence that God has granted us, to see justice prevail, and to offer charity to those in need. God’s blessings are not meant to be totally consumed by us. Paul writes, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor 9:11). A simple definition of generosity is blessing others from the blessings we have received from God. I wonder something. I wonder, using Don Richardson’s language if we’re in danger of being so focused on the top line – all good things God has given us – that we have forgotten the bottom line, and the bottom line is this: we have been blessed to be a blessing.
Let’s take a moment and focus on the greatest blessing of all. Those of us who know the Lord personally, who have received the gift of salvation, are called to share the good news with others in word and deed (Matt 28:19). The central task of the church, those who have received the blessing of salvation in Christ, is to share the good news with others in the hope that they, too, will receive the blessing of salvation.
The blessings God gives us are intended to be shared with all, beginning with the inestimable blessing of salvation in Christ, as well as all the other good things the Lord has given us. You might not think you have much to offer. You lay all you feel you possess on the table, and perhaps you feel lacking. But, I encourage you to consider what God brings to the table. What He brings to the table fills the table and overflows and continues unending. Remember, you, plus God, are always more than enough.
In all honesty, I know I have been greatly blessed in so many ways. I am a blessed man. If you, like me, are a believer, then whatever your circumstances, you’ve been given not only salvation but hope, forgiveness, and love. Those of us in Christ have been given everything that is eternally worthwhile. What is the Lord’s intention in giving us these things? God’s blessings are not meant to be totally consumed by us. We are blessed to be a blessing. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!