Don't Cheat Yourself Out of God's Blessings!
"For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield." - Psalm 5:12 NIV
I was in a department store today, standing in line to pay for my purchases. Being as it was just a few days before Christmas, the store was rather busy, and the line, rather long. A lady standing in front of me, holding several items herself, turned around and asked me if I would "hold her place" for a moment, while she went and got a hat she had been eyeing while she had been standing in line. With a friendly smile, I nodded and said, "Sure, go ahead."
I watched as she hurried over to the rack, picked up the hat, glanced at a couple more items, and then returned to the line. She couldn't have been gone more than a minute at the most. As she once again took her place in line in front of me, she looked at me and said, with a look of relief, "Thank you, this hat will be just perfect for my mother-in-law!"
"No problem, I replied, and thank YOU, too!"
"For what?", she asked me, looking somewhat puzzled.
"For helping me get a blessing from God, I said. You see, when I do something nice for someone else, I KNOW God is going to bless ME for it in a special way, I don't EVER want to cheat myself out of God's blessings!"
She broke into a big smile and said, "You are SO right - why can't we all think like that?"
We then began to engage in a friendly conversation, along with another lady standing behind me. It made the wait in line a lot more pleasant, and the time go by a little faster!
Now, I could have just as easily snubbed her and refused to save her spot in line. After all, "move your feet, lose your seat", as the old saying goes, right?! But I've learned that it doesn't take any extra effort to be nice once in a while, than it does to be mean or spiteful. In fact, for those who have the heart of Christ, it just comes "naturally" But I could see the excitement in her eyes as she came back with the hat, feeling proud that she had picked out something special for her mother in law. It didn't put me out a bit to let her slip out of line long enough to go get the hat, and after seeing it, I was actually excited for her mother-in-law - it WAS a beautiful hat!
The same thing has happened to me before, as well - I'm standing in line at the grocery store, remembered something I forgot or saw something I meant to get, and had to leave my place in line to go get it. Now, I'll admit, I've never actually asked the person behind me to "save my place", although, if it didn't take seconds to grab the item and get back in line, I HAVE shamed customers into letting me back in line!
However, this young lady was so friendly herself, and beaming with excitement, that I couldn't have turned her down if I wanted to- she had an infectious smile, an upbeat personality, and the "gift of gab" to whomever would listen. As a matter of fact, before she got up to the register to pay for her items, the lady behind me and I had convinced her to put back 2 of the items she was "unsure of", and get only one item and the hat, thereby saving her "buyers regret", and $20 or $30 to boot! And as she picked up her bags and headed out the door, she turned around and wished us all a cheery "Merry Christmas" about a hundred times!
Now while some may have seen her request as being an "inconvenience" or "irritating", I was glad she asked me to do it, because it paved the way for me to receive a blessing from God. And in that particular instance, the blessing just happen to be HER! By the time she had left, I was feeling a little lighter, the lady behind me was laughing and smiling and even the clerk at the register seemed to perk up a little and be more friendly to the customers! Just that simple act of kindess put in motion a "domino effect" of happiness and good will right there in the line!
So what, you say - its easy to be nice to someone who's nice to you, right? In most cases, that's true. So what if she had been a mean, grumpy old hag? What if she just broke OUT of line without saying a word, took 5 or 10 minutes to do some additional shopping and THEN returned, shoving and expecting to get back in front of me - how would I have reacted THEN, you say? Probably, the SAME WAY. Here's why...
You see, it doesn't matter what the OTHER person does, it only matters what I DO. I can't control how others act, talk or feel, but I CAN control what I say and do. And I know, through God's word, that when I am "Christ-like" to others, He WILL bless me for it! And that's what I mean about not cheating yourself out of His blessings! I'm not going to let someone else's bad attitude or behavior cause me to react in the same way, thereby forfeiting my blessings!
There are several good examples of this principle in the Bible. In Genesis, for example, we read the story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his own brothers. And although he was put in jail and encountered many troubles after that, the Lord was with him and not only delivered him from all his troubles, but turned his situation around and caused the Pharaoh to make him a great ruler. Then, his own brothers had to travel to Egypt to buy grain, not knowing it was Joseph they were buying from! But Joseph instantly recognized them,and instead of being mad at them for what they had done to him, he finally revealed his identity to them, welcomed them with open arms and insisted the whole family come and live with him! In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells them,
" You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good." (NLT)
Joseph didn't have to forgive his brothers for what they done to him - he could have just as easily held it against them all those years, sulked about how badly they had treated him and let hate and vengeance build up inside him. But he had the 'heart of Christ" inside, and knew that if he would just trust in God and forgive his brothers, that God would bless him for it - and He certainly did! He wasn't about to let what his brothers did cheat him out of God's blessings for his own life!
There is another example in 2 Samuel 16 concerning King David, and a pesky little guy named Shimei, who had a grudge against him. The Lord had replaced King Saul with King David, and King Saul was a Benjamite, like Shimei. As King David and his men were traveling down the road, Shimei showed up and started throwing stones at them and cursing them. One of David's men, Abishai, turned to David and said,
"What's his problem - why is he pestering us? Do you want me to go over there and cut off his head so he'll leave us alone?" (v.9)
But King David ignored Shimei, and simply said,
"Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.” (vs 11-12)
And even though, later, King David could have had him put to death, he spared his life, and God went on to deliver David from the hands of ALL his enemies - quite the blessing, wouldn't you say? All that, just for being nice - for being the "better man", but more importantly, for being Christ-like.
People often search all their life trying to find the "secret" to God's blessings. They read motivational books, post "positive thinking" quotes all over their house and car, and consult psychiatrists, priests and even fortune tellers, trying to discover the secret to health, wealth and happiness. Well, let ME tell you the secret - there IS no secret - the answer is stated plainly in God's word how to receive His blessings:
"Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right." Psalm 106:3 NIV
I have discovered that if I just do my utmost level best to do what is right, what is good, what is moral and decent, God will bless me for it 100% of the time! Oh, the blessing may or may not come right away - as with Joseph, it may take many years before we realize our blessings from God; and then again, like with me, you may receive your blessing the very instant you do what is right! And that's why we shouldn't ever pass up an opportunity to "be a blessing" to others, whether we reap a benefit from it right then or not. Because, in time, God is going to see to it that we ARE rewarded and blessed for it!
Now, let me inject a disclaimer right here and now - I'm NOT saying that we should be nice to others JUST to receive a blessing - that's being nice for the wrong reason! If you're nice just to see what God is going to do for YOU, you're going to be very disappointed, because that is self-serving and deceitful, and God will certainly not bless anyone who does things only for their own selfish benefit. -
"Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. " - Galatians 6:8 NLT
We should be nice to others because that is what God tells us to do, and because if you have the love of Christ inside, that is what you will WANT to do. Every time I do something nice for someone or forgive an injustice that has been done to me, I don't look up at Heaven and say, "Okay, God, now what are you going to do for ME?" NO! That's not how it works!
When you have the true spirit of Christ within, you will start to act, speak and think in amazing ways - ways in which you would have never thought you'd see yourself! You'll be kinder, more patient, more loving, easier to get along with, willing to sacrifice for others, and yes, even forgiving those who have hurt you. (It is by God's saving grace that you are like that, but we'll save that for another hub!) And once, you start treating others nicer, you'll notice God will start blessing you with little "favors". For instance, you'll get an unexpected financial blessing, or someone will give you something you've been wanting for a long time.
I see this all the time in my own life - I'll find that certain something I was shopping for and it will be on sale; or I'll be blessed with an unexpected call from a client who wants to do business with me. Sometimes, the blessing is subtle, like finding something I've lost or suddenly remembering to do something important. God has all kinds of ways to bless us, so I don't worry about WHAT the blessing will be, or even WHEN it will come - I just know that as long as I serve Him and make Him first in my life, He will bless me!
Yes, there are many things we are cheated out of in life, but when you put God first, and "do unto others", you'll never be cheated out of your blessings from God!
"So don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. Whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone...." - Galatians 6:9-10 NLT