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I sometimes hear people talk about how “blessed” they are. And generally, the context of their “blessedness” surrounds their wealth.
Now, I think most American’s would agree – that making or having a large sum of money – constitutes a certain blessedness. And the person having that wealth would be right in saying they are blessed. I would imagine it is a humbling fact to have that kind of money while being aware of the great needs outside of themselves. Having much, ought to breed humility (unless you are self-absorbed).
But I got to wondering – is God more happy or pleased with some people – that He bestows upon them wealth? Are they blessed in that way? Maybe another way to say it is: are some folks just more favored by God?
To answer this – I decided to check-in with my good friend, Pastor Tim Fulkerson of Faith Community Church. He had some good thoughts – and starts with a definition of “blessedness”.
From the perspective of Jesus (who ultimately defines true blessedness), he does not say that the wealthy are more blessed than the poor. In the ‘Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5:3-12)…Jesus defines people who are truly blessed as those who are: poor in spirit; who mourn; who are meek; who hunger and thirst for righteousness; who are merciful; who are pure in heart; who are peacemakers; and those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.
Whether or not a person has material wealth is therefore not the true sign of “blessedness.” People who define “blessedness” according to wealth, have a tendency to define things from the perspective of the temporal rather than the eternal. One could gain the whole world (material wealth), and yet lose their soul (Mark 8:36). Would they be blessed? I think not. Is it possible, however, for those who do have material wealth to not lose their soul…as they remain meek, poor in spirit? It is…but Scripture does give warnings as to the dangers of wealth for a person’s spiritual life. 1 Timothy 6:17-18 makes it clear that a person isn’t to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but to be “rich” in good works and generous and ready to share. Scripture makes it clear that wealth can easily lead us astray from the purposes of heaven to the cares of earth.
Jesus says that a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of their possessions (Luke 12:15). Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain something he cannot lose.” This is the perspective we must have — the perspective of the eternal.
God doesn’t mind us having things, he minds things having us. Can a person with material wealth be spiritually blessed? Yes — but not without greater temptation. What matters in the end… is spiritual wealth. That’s what it means to be blessed.
I often struggle with defining blessedness in these terms. I often see that the true way to success, health and blessedness is earning more and more. But – in the end – that pursuit will likely disappoint.
I think Mr. Elliot was truly blessed when he set his goals and intentions on the pursuit of true riches – that can never be lost.
[Thanks Pastor Tim]