BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING

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1 BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING By James E. Cossey Scripture: Genesis 12:2, 3; Luke 3:11; 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 The world-renowned Baptist pastor, E. V. Hill (now deceased), once said, Most of the time when God is blessing you, he ain t even got you in mind! That was Dr. Hill s way of saying that God does not want His people to be reservoirs to horde up God s goodness; He wants us to be rivers that will cause His blessings to flow through us to others. Lakes and ponds that have no tributaries soon lose their freshness. They become stale and stagnant. The natural life within them begins to die and decay. What once was vibrant and alive becomes murky and undesirable. But those bodies of water even small ponds that have circulatory outlets remain fresh, and fragrant and inviting. They are teeming with life and vitality. They not only contain life, they attract life, because they offer refreshment and renewal to other living things. So it is with believers. We are blessed of God. His Word says so. To be saved is to be blessed. To live the Christian life is to be blessed. To be filled with the Spirit, and know the Word and have fellowship with each other is to be blessed. We are blessed! And yet the Scriptures let us know that the only way to fully enjoy those blessings and to perpetuate those blessings is for us to be tributaries to become channels through which God works and by which He enables us to share His blessings with others. 1

2 This was God s message to Abram. In Genesis 12:2, 3, God makes an eternal promise to Abram (Abraham): I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. The latter part of verse 3 is a Messianic prophecy proclaiming the coming of Jesus, but it is interesting to observe the order of God s pronouncement to Abram: I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great. God said all of this before He said, And you shall be a blessing. And He said this before He said, I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. The prerequisite for all of these things was the blessing of God upon Abram s life! And the natural (or perhaps supernatural) progression is that, once God said I will bless you, He immediately prophesied again and said, And you shall be a blessing! In this case, it could accurately be said that when God blessed Abram, He did not even have Abram in mind. Rather, He was thinking about the multitudes that would be blessed through Abram and his seed. God is saying to Abram, I have blessed you to be a blessing! There are three points we need to ponder. If we miss these three things, we will miss everything else in this message. First, God never blesses us so we can horde His blessings. Jesus said: Do not lay 2

3 up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasurers in heaven (Matthew 6:19, 20). Second, God never blesses us so we can boast in our possessions. Consider this parable from Jesus: Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:16-21). Third, God only blesses us so we can share. Jesus declared: Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you (Luke 6:38). In 2 Corinthians 9:7-14, the Apostle Paul gives us a progressive, step-by-step overview of what takes place when we understand God s blessing process. Both Selfishness and Generosity Reproduce Themselves (v. 6). This may be called the Tributary Principle. When a body of water is closed off it becomes lifeless and stale. The longer it stays closed off, the more it will reproduce the 3

4 same sick, slimy staleness. The more we bottle up God s blessings and fail to share them, the more like that murky pond we become! Sow nothing, reap nothing. Give nothing, receive nothing. It is not that God doesn t want to bless us, but that He can not bless us because we have closed off the channels! Many people say, I d like to bless others, but I just don t have anything to bless them with! Or they say, I d like to give to God s work, but I just don t have it. If I had more, I d give! An unknown poet once wrote: It s not what you d do with millions, if millions should be your lot. But what are you doing at present with the buck and a quarter you ve got! Our Blessing Attitude Determines Our Blessing Altitude (v. 7). Some time ago I was preparing my tithe envelope at a time when I was facing several pressing financial obligations (buying one house, attempting to sell another). As I started to write the check, something said to me, The church really doesn t need this. The church is doing fine. It was then that I recalled that my giving was not so much because the church needed me to give, but because I needed to give! I am sure that the church found a place for every dollar of my tithe, but more important than the fact that the church was blessed because it received my tithe, I was blessed because I released my tithe! Once we recognize that everything we think we have is really God s, we then 4

5 realize that we really are not giving, we are actually just releasing back to God what is already His in the first place! A minister was receiving the offering in a church service. Wanting to release tension over the need of the moment, he said this to the congregation: Tonight, I want each of you to take out your wallet and hand it to the person seated next to you. Tell him to reach inside your wallet and give whatever he wants to give! Now wouldn t that produce some cheerful givers! Of course, nobody wanted to do that because we all know that we can be far more generous with the blessings of others than we can with our own. But it illustrates what can happen to our attitude when we realize that everything we have belongs to Someone else (God). When I recognize that I am giving back to God what is rightfully His, I become a cheerful giver! do? The God Equation Defies Mathematical Calculation (vv. 8-10). The key phrase here is in verse 8, And God is able.. But what is God able to God Is Able to Make Grace Abound Toward Us. Grace is God s unmerited favor. Grace is what kept Noah in the ark. Grace is what kept Daniel in the Lion s Den, the Three Hebrew Children in the furnace, David in the face of Goliath, and Paul in prison. God s Word says that if we open up the tributaries of our life, God will cause His grace to abound toward us! That s exciting! God Is Able to Provide for Our Sufficiency. 5

6 God has promised that, if we open up the blessing channels of our life, He will see that we have what we need! God does not necessarily promise everything that we want, but everything that we need. Paul wrote: And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). God Is Able to Provide an Abundance for Use in Blessing Others. What did Dr. E.V. Hill say? Sometimes when God blesses you, He ain t even got you in mind! God s blessings as an act of His grace are so that we may have enough for our own needs with some left over to use in blessing others! God s mathematics are amazing! How He does what He does with what we give is astounding! It s as the little old lady said in the country church I once pastored: You can have God s blessings on ninety cents, or God s curse on the dollar! Wow! That makes the choice easier! What Goes Around, Comes Around (vv ). Talk about amazing! God s Word says that there is a divine administration, a sacred operation, a God thing, that is taking place when we open up the tributaries of our life! We are enriched because we are giving. We are blessed because of our liberality. We produce thanksgiving on the part of those who are blessed by our giving. We help supply the need of the saints. 6

7 We produce evidence of the ministry of God s grace. We cause others to glorify God. We are blessed because of our obedience Our profession of faith in God positively affects the lives of others. This divine administration of our stewardship once again proves what so many have said. When someone says, I can not afford to give! tell them they can not afford not to give, because what goes around, comes around. The End Results Are Spiritual Returns on Our Investment (v. 14). Many people miss the point when they give in order to get. They have the idea, or have been told, that when they give God will give back to them in monetary ways. That may be the case, and often is. But neither should that be the primary motivation for blessing others, nor is that the greatest return one can expect. Verse fourteen reminds us that, when we open up the tributaries of our lives and share God s blessings with others, we create for ourselves covenant relationships with other believers namely those who have been blessed by our generosity. Think of some of the things that generosity does: Generosity develops prayer partners. We are enriched by the prayers of those who are blessed by our benevolence. Generosity develops covenant relationships. Those we bless often desire to fellowship with us (Paul says they long for us). Generosity re-releases the Grace of God in our lives. 7

8 Years ago, in a world mission service, Lovell Cary, then missionary to the Far East, said, If I had to choose between going to the mission field without your money, or go without your prayers, I d choose to go without your money. At the time, I thought, Brother Cary, you are crazy! But you see, what Brother Cary had done was simple: He had invested himself and his own finances in the harvest, developed an attitude of gratitude, released it all to God s miracle mathematics, let God s divine administration work, and the end result was not only people who gave back to him financially, but people who blessed him with their prayers. Conclusion Many years ago, there was a somewhat unscrupulous evangelist on radio and television. His lifestyle was questionable and his theology was offensive to most believers. He had one statement that he often used, however, that is so accurate and appropriate when it comes to understanding stewardship. He would often say, You can lose with the stuff I use! You can t lose when it comes to giving and sharing in a biblical manner! A pastor walked on-site at the construction of a new home by one of his wealthy members only to find the lady of the house vigorously negotiating with a sub-contractor. The object of discussion was the installation of the central heat and air system for the home. They were only a couple hundred dollars apart, but the lady declared that she would not pay one cent more. He could agree to her price or she would find somebody else to do the job! As the contractor left (having agreed, I might add, to her price), the pastor put his 8

9 hand on the shoulder of this dear woman of God and said, You are a tough negotiator. And, it s not as if you have no money! The lady replied to her pastor. My husband and I have been blessed financially. But we have been blessed so we can be a blessing to others. And don t you see, the more I can save on this house, the more I can give! To which the pastor replied, Bless you, my sister, save all you can!! Rogers and Hammerstein said it so well: A bell is not a bell until you ring it. A song is not a song until you sing it. Love wasn t put in our hearts to stay. Love isn t love until you give it away. You and I are blessed to be a blessings! Editor s Note: Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version. James E. Cossey serves as Editor in Chief of Church of God Publicaitons. 9

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