Blessing Versus Benefit and a Whole Lot of Thankfulness
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV
Lately, I've been striving to have a more thankful heart. God has been showing me some things that I've not really understood until I started working on this part of my character. I'd like to share what He has taught me with you.
First of all, I was born privileged. This is something that much of the world doesn't have in common with me. I'm not talking about having a family that boasts of exceeding monetary wealth as many first world citizens think of when they hear this phrase. I'm talking about being born with opportunity in the first place. Because I was born into my country, The United States of America, I immediately became a privileged person. Because of the opportunities and amenities that are readily accessible here, I am considered wealthy to most of the world at large. Not only are my basic needs met and provided, but also many of my wants are able to be easily obtained and enjoyed.
Our family has always had access to transportation which has often included possessing one or more vehicles of our own. We have adequate shelter with clean, running water and electricity. We have seasonal clothing, access to education, paying jobs and the list goes on and on. Essentially, the list is endless.
I have also been dwelling upon the reality of what a privilege it was to have been able to grow up in a Christian home and live in a Godly environment. I know that there are so many that have never experienced this wonderful privilege, even in America. Had it not been for the grace of God in saving my parents, I wouldn't have either. Living in the United States has made our religious freedoms possible. We are still able to carry out our faith without fear or secrecy even today. When I consider these things, I humbly realize that I am more privileged than most people ever will be in a lifetime. Does privilege make me better? No. Does it make me superior? Of course not, but it should make me very thankful.
Many times privilege comes through someone else that has laid the groundwork and endured the struggle. Someone else that has fought the fight or that has labored ahead of us so that we might enjoy the fruit of that labor. We should never take these things for granted because it could have so easily been very different for us.
Upon expressing my thankfulness to the Lord, I immediately began thinking of blessing. I have always felt that I am so blessed because I have material things. I have a bed to sleep in every night. I have a warm home in the winter and a cool home in the summer. I have a vehicle to drive and even a a smart phone and laptop! Truly, I must be blessed for all these things! Surprisingly, this is where God began to really speak to me. Yes, I am right to be thankful for all of these things, but what if the benefits stop? Could I still be thankful? This is where God gave me a lesson on the difference between benefits and blessing.
The word "benefit" is defined as: An advantage or profit gained from something. (Or in this case, Someone).
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. Psalm 103:2
Benefits are advantages and profits that are given by God. It's the little and big things that we enjoy everyday. Whether it's provision for our needs, such as fresh air and food, or less important things, like owning a vehicle and the fulfilling of personal desires.
We should thank God daily for the benefits that He gives. Ironically, it seems the more that we have the less thankful we can be! We tend to get a spoiled attitude and a feeling of entitlement as we obtain more and more. It would do some of us good to have a few benefits stripped away from time to time so that we can see what we've been taking for granted.
America has enjoyed many benefits because of a privileged status. We are a thriving country despite our many flaws. Why has America enjoyed so many benefits when so much of the world is suffering? It's certainly not because Americans are God's favorite. God loves all of His creation the same. For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2:11 So, how can this be explained? The answer is blessing.
The word "blessing" is defined as: God's approval or God's favor and protection.
The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with it. Proverbs 10:22
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance. Psalm 33:12
America is blessed today because of the Godly foundation she was built upon. No matter what anyone tries to tell you, there is proof all throughout American history where God has been served, worshiped and placed as the heart of our decisions. No, we certainly do not have a shining past in every aspect, but America has always seemed to come around, see her faults and turn toward God by repenting and correcting her errors. Because of this, God's favor and approval has smiled upon America.
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34
Sadly, The United States of America is losing sight of her roots. Our foundation is cracking beneath us as God is all but forgotten. How long will God's approval stay with us? The further we go from His righteousness, the less we'll be exalted. The more that sin becomes commonplace among our people, the more we'll suffer reproach. We must wake up before it's too late!
People all over the world, even in third world countries can know God's blessing. When there are very few benefits to be enjoyed blessing can still be real in someone's life because true blessing is not material things at all. It's God's approval. If any person will love and serve God His favor will be upon them. When God shows His favor to someone He gives them a promise. No matter what they've had to suffer on earth, no matter how hard times have become and no matter what struggles are endured, God will restore it all through the promise of eternal life in Heaven with Him.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17
What better way to obtain a parent's favor than to brag on their child? What better way to receive God's favor than to accept His Son, Jesus Christ into your life and allow Him to cleanse you from sin?
You can know God's blessing. It's not in material possessions or wealth. It's through a personal relationship with the Creator Himself.