“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that...” (2 Cor. 1:3–4, ESV)
Our lives are littered with expressions of the goodness of God. The shelves of our pantries are stocked. Roofs over our heads. Vehicles for the journey. From money to pay the bills to something stashed away for the days ahead, God has been good.
The response God wants of us is thanksgiving. He wants us to see our possessions being extended to us by His open hand of provision. The money we have derives from jobs He has provided and skills He has gifted and competencies He has honed. A life of thanks should adorn our lives like the glitter my granddaughters sprinkle about. It touches everything and the reflection of the light captures the attention of others.
Gratitude keeps us tuned in to the goodness of our God and helps us to give Him glory in the sight of others. But there is something more that God wants of us in respect to the blessings He lavishes upon us. The apostle lays it out in the opening words of his second letter to the church at Corinth.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Cor. 1:3–4)
Paul begins his letter to a beleaguered church by blessing the God who has met them in their affliction with His tender mercies and comfort. Notice, though, that comfort from God is not something to be stockpiled. We are to count our blessings but with the dimension of being stewards of those blessings for ministry to others. We are to pass it on.
We see this principle illustrated in the body of the letter. God had comforted Paul through Titus, who had himself been comforted by the Corinthian church (7:6-7). Paul spells it out in verse 13: “Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all.” Through this conduit of comfort Paul could say, “I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Cor. 7:4).
Here’s the formula: God blesses us. We bless others in keeping with how God blesses us.
We see that formula at work again in respect to finances. In chapters 8 and 9, Paul describes the Corinthians giving of what God had given to them (emphasis added).
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8)
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:10–11)
Notice that God’s provision comes with strings attached, the strings of stewardship. God gives so that. Enrichment is unto; it extends toward a goal. God gives to bless us but also so that we will be a blessing to others. That means we should not only be thankful, we should also expect to be charitable. The blessing we receive is not only a crop to be enjoyed; it carries seed to be sown.
How do we go about developing a mindset of stewardship of blessing? Let me suggest two ways.
First, we want to take stock of the blessings we have from God. Our finances, our homes, our time, our experiences, our skills are all areas for inventory. How has God ministered to us in crisis or given us strength along the way? This inventory is not annual; it is daily, as aspect of our communion with God.
Second, we want to pray and plan for ways to bless others in keeping with how God blessed us. What words of encouragement can we use to buoy someone’s flagging spirits? What means do we have that can lighten the load of another? How can we be the presence of Christ in the affliction of another?
Of course, God’s greatest comfort to us is blessing us with every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ. We pass that blessing along by sharing the good news of great joy that God has provided for the deepest of all needs in the reconciling work of His Son.
- Count your blessings. Ask the Spirit to help you take inventory of your life. Give thanks to your Father in heaven for His provision.
- How do these blessings equip you to bless others? Pray for opportunity to pass on that blessing to someone in your spheres of influence.
Heavenly Father, I thank You that You have blessed me with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. I thank You that You have supplied all my needs according to Your riches in Him. Help me to bless others in kind with how You have blessed me.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.