Our culture of independence clamors over ‘rights.’ As a believer, I can fall prey to this view and begin to see God’s promise to bless as one of those rights. However, recognizing His promise is a gift and not a right restores the Lord’s perspective to various relationships in my life, even my relationship to the blessings themselves.
My Relationship to God
God is the source of all good gifts, of all blessings. James reminds us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17). Remembering God’s promise to bless is a gift and not a right keeps my relationship to God in proper perspective.
Jesus makes this point in a parable in Matthew 20:1–16. Day laborers arrived at a vineyard at various hours to work for an agreed wage. Each of the laborers held expectations for the vineyard owner. The workers arriving in the cool of the morning agreed to a day’s wage; other workers came later in the afternoon. However, at the end of the day, the vineyard owner gave the same wage to all the laborers. Those who worked the entire day grumbled about this seemingly unfair situation. Addressing their complaint, the vineyard owner replied, “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matthew 20:15).
God’s blessings are not wages earned for our works, they are gifts. And when I lose this perspective, I become like those ungrateful workers, forgetting these blessings come to me from the hand of a generous God.
My Relationship to Others
Recognizing that all I have, even my righteousness before God, comes as gifts from God also puts my relationship to others in proper perspective.
In Luke 18:9–14, Jesus tells the story of two men, a tax collector and a Pharisee, who were praying in the temple. The tax collector asks only for mercy, acknowledging his sin. But the Pharisee, under pretense of gratitude, begins listing his good deeds before God. “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.” Believing his righteousness comes from his own efforts, the Pharisee considers others with derision, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men.”
When I recognize any good in me, any talents or accomplishments, are gifts from a loving God, I see others as fellow recipients of God’s grace, and I can rejoice with them in God’s goodness, treating them with humility and love.
My Relationship to Works
Similarly, knowing God’s blessings come as gifts thwarts my tendency toward legalism. The Scriptures clearly say salvation did not come to me through my work. God the Father, in His grace, gave up His most precious gift, God the Son, to have the joy of blessing me with salvation (Rom. 5:8). What can I give to God that did not come from His hand? Why would I strive to receive from God’s hand things freely given to me as gifts?
My Relationship to Blessings
Finally, knowing all blessings are gifts from God puts my relationship to the blessings in perspective. Many of these benefits are spiritual blessings resting securely for me in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3). But other blessings such as a steady income, a roof over my head, and money in the bank do not come with guarantees.
If I’m looking to God only for the blessings, I need to check my heart. Job had the right attitude in the face of loss, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21). True worship finds joy in God first and foremost.
Eyes on the One Who Blesses
God never intends His blessings to replace my affection for Him. I must look past the gifts to the Giver and enjoy these blessings, keeping my eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ, “the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:26). Remembering God’s blessings are a privilege fills me with gratitude for the grace the Lord extends to me and draws me deeper into my love relationship with Him, the Source of all good things.