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Before you and I had many childhood memories, we were disciplined or scolded by our moms, dads, and grandparents. I’m sure my young mind questioned my mom’s reasoning as to why a stinging, red handprint upon my behind was going to hurt her more than it would hurt me. But she knew I needed to understand the word “No!” No! Don’t stick your fork into the light socket. No! Don’t cross Pennsylvania Avenue on your tricycle. No! You can’t steal balloons from the hardware store. No! Don’t hit your little brother.
Our parents never had to teach us to say “Mine!” Our little hearts had the natural knack to be selfish. Even though we have always been image-bearers of a miraculous Creator, we are also man-made hoarders. “That’s mine,” I said as I often took my brother’s Hot Wheel cars and added them into my pile. “Mine,” as I pushed my older sister away from the Easter candy scattered around the yard in Spring.
After each strong word or sore bum and a time-out, I was reassured of my parent’s love. I said the same thing to my young kids as I helped correct behaviors of selfishness and move their hearts toward understanding how much God loves us and wants us to live under His biblical care for our lives. Isn’t our obedience to our earthly parents like our obedience to our heavenly Father? I believe it is a way for us to know how much we love them or love God.
What is a Blessing Hog?
So, is being selfish always wrong? I might have thought being selfish was a bad thing until I put it in context with my missional-gospel walk and my relationship with Jesus. Maybe “selfish” isn’t the best choice of words to use. I like to think of myself as a blessing hog. That doesn’t mean going around pushing people out of the way for a blessing, or tricking a sibling like Jacob did to Esau for his father’s blessing (Gen. 27).
Do you ever drop your jaw in amazement at the blessings you have been given by God? I think being a blessing hog is unashamedly taking the blessings that God gives or promises to us. It’s more about not missing out than grabbing the goods. In Ephesians 1:3-4, we read: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
- V. 4: We are holy and blameless before Him. That’s a blessing!
- V. 5: God took us from foes to family, to the purpose of His will and to the praise of His glorious grace. That is a blessing!
- V. 7: We have redemption and forgiveness of sin. That indeed is a blessing!
- V. 9: We are clued in on His will. That’s a blessing!
- V. 13: We are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit and a future inheritance. Blessing!
The Apostle Paul takes his entire letter to the Ephesians to give us more than a taste of God’s goodness. God’s blessings to you and to me are like a tsunami of grace and should make our hearts burst for joy in all that we possess in Christ. We have EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
The blessings continue throughout the letter, but in chapter 3, verse 8, Paul says this and turns the direction of blessings a bit:
“. . . To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all thing . . .”
Like Paul, we have an opportunity that comes from that abounding grace. We can, in confidence, bring God’s plan to everyone we meet. We, like saints all through history, get to speak of His blessings every time we have a gospel conversation.
God’s Redemptive Work
When we watch what those sacred and powerful words do to a hearer, we are blessed again, aren’t we? We see the Spirit of God take the Word of God about the redemptive work of the Son of God and bring light to those who are still in darkness.
“I don’t even know how to get the faith to believe in Jesus,” said Bob, a friend since junior high days. I had prayed for Bob for years and we chatted about God every time the opportunity arose. I wasn’t going to miss out on sharing the hope that I had found in Jesus.
Bob had made stupid choices. I had determined long ago that he was a guy who was probably never going to become a follower of Jesus. Well, I was wrong. And I was glad that I was not his judge and jury. I remember telling him one night that he couldn’t muster up the faith on his own to be saved. I’m sure I recited Ephesian 2:8, “Even faith is a gift from God.”
I encouraged him to pray that God would give him just the amount of faith he needed to believe. And God did. Bob has been a radical follower of Christ ever since, and I received a blessing of being able to see an old school friend’s life change. I don’t take credit for anything. He made that decision later. I just received the blessing of seeing God work in Bob’s heart. That’s being a blessing hog.
I don’t want to count all times I missed out on the personal blessing of watching and seeing God at work because I was not willing to say something to a non-believer.
Here’s the bottom-line, big blessing: God magnifies Himself right in front of all of us, choosing us to watch Him work.
I don’t want to ever miss out on that blessing, do you? It may mean reading, knowing, studying, and memorizing more Scripture. But it also means being available when God prepares us for a gospel encounter. It is also looking for that opportunity. Join me as a fellow blessing hog, as God allows us to be in on His plan to reach the world for His namesake. Oh, that others would know the riches of Christ and love our Savior!