I read an intriguing post over at the Boundless blog (Read the post here).
The title of the post was: “Blessed at Another’s Expense?” Ted Slater, the author of the post poses the question of our proper response to God’s blessings. Here’s something he encourages readers to think about:
If I get a parking space near the door or the last piece of pie at the buffet, someone else doesn’t. If I find a $20 bill fluttering on the ground, someone has lost their $20 bill. If I find a good deal on a HUD house, someone has likely been evicted from their home. If I marry a wonderful woman, some other guy doesn’t get to.
Surely the Lord has His hands on the events of my life, even the seemingly meaningless ones. Why in His providence do I sometimes benefit at someone else’s loss?
I agree with the idea of his post that we ought to accept God’s gifts humbly and be mindful of the needs of those around us. Still, I am reminded that God gives us gifts because of His Grace, never out of some sense of favoritism.
The Apostle Peter reveals this principle in reference to salvation in Acts 10. In verses 34-35 Peter says:
I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
Here’s the context: Peter is, for perhaps the first time, in the home of a Gentile with whom he is sharing a meal and sharing the gospel. It was unusual (even taboo) for a Jew to enter the home of a Gentile — it would make them unclean. Yet, God spoke to Peter in a vision, commanding him not to call unclean what (or who) God has made clean. God chose Peter in this instance (Acts 10) to go to this Gentile home and proclaim the gospel.
The idea that God wanted to save Gentiles was at best confusing, and at worst heretical to the Jews of that day. During the days of the early church the Jews (and even Jewish believers) struggled to understand how God could show grace to other groups of people (who were not Jews or Jewish converts).
Here’s the tie-in: Many of the Jews believed that God had chosen them (the sons of Abraham) because of His partiality, and that they were inherently better or more special than any other nation. The fact is, however, that God chose the children of Israel in order for them to be a light to the nations, so that He could show His grace to all mankind. They were to be an example of grace, not favoritism.
Let’s bring it back to today.
God still blesses us. As Christians, we must understand that we are not inherently better than other people. God gives us His grace and salvation, and desires for all mankind to receive it. If we understand that God wants to bless people, we must also understand that He doesn’t bless us (with the $20, with the opportunities, with the jobs, with the spouse, kids, home, etc) because He loves us more or someone else less. He does it to show His grace.
I believe that God is sovereign. He can bless whomever He so chooses with whatever He chooses. He does have a unique plan for each and every person. The blessings that God offers to you and to me are not things that we ought to feel guilty about, but neither are they reason for us to feel proud or boastful. We must take them for what they are–gifts from a gracious God.
Perhaps we will respond humbly by thanking God, and maybe by passing along His blessings by being a blessing to others.