Do you use your blessing as a badge?
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
–Luke 14:15 NIV
This seemingly simple comment made by “one of those at the table” was loaded with religious pride and prejudice. It points to what we consider to be a blessing or what it means to be blessed.
This person at the table believed that being blessed was more important than being a blessing. When we believe the same, we wear our blessings as a badge. But Jesus taught that we are not to live for a blessing but to be a blessing. Blessings need to be tools to serve other not badges to wear.
When we use blessing as a badge it makes us competitive and complacent people like those in this parable:
Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God.
–Luke 18:10-14 NLT
When we use blessing as a tool, it makes us considerate and compassionate people, people who reflect the image of Christ:
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
–Philippians 2:1-4 MSG
One creative way we can live this out is the concept of “la spesa sospesa,” a century-old Neapolitan tradition that translates to “suspended coffee.” In Italy, when someone goes to the cafe, they also anonymously pay for a cup of coffee to be given to someone in the future who can’t afford it. The essentially give out of what they have to bless someone else who doesn’t.
What would it look like to suspend our time, resources or money for the benefit of others? If we were to do this, we would no longer live for a blessing but we would become a blessing to those around us.
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