God’s blessings should never be taken for granted. How arrogant it is to enjoy God’s generosity and yet deny His glory. Yet the tendency of sinful man is to consume God’s gifts and believe that our hands alone have provided them.
“God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us – that Your way may be known on the earth, your salvation among all nations…God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.” (Psalm 67:1,7)
God’s promise to Abraham introduced the amazing heart of God to bless all the families and nations: “I will bless you and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2,3) God blesses us to make us a blessing and a living testimony of the abundance of His goodness.
As I type these words from my booth at Panera Bread, I am observing many folks enjoying life. Two cute giggling kids just ran past with a proud daddy following. At another table two retired gentlemen are enjoying coffee and friendship, and by their body language I can tell they thoroughly enjoy the camaraderie. Life is being enjoyed by all of these people.
God only knows if any of these people realize that all the good they are enjoying was His idea. All the blessings that humans enjoy in this life originate and are sustained by God’s power. And He pours out seemingly indiscriminately. The same sun rises on the righteous and the unrighteous. Even idol-worshippers, or atheists, fall in love and enjoy delicious food. Pagans who look into the face of their lovers or their tiny children feel a deep sense of meaning and purpose.
Theologians refer to these blessings as common grace and natural revelation. By “common” it is not meant “to be taken for granted”! Rather, that God allows it to spill over into anyone’s life – even those who might be arrogant and hateful to Him and others. By “natural” it is meant that God’s goodness and glory can be known through what He has made. The glory of creation, of our bodies, our minds, our relationships…are tangible expressions of God’s lovingkindness towards the sons of men.
For these (and many other) reasons all men are without excuse for denying God.
But the Bible teaches that common grace and natural revelation alone are not sufficient to bring people to an experience of salvation. To understand the problem of sin and to escape its guilt and power, requires saving grace and a special revelation. God must open our pride-blinded eyes and rescue us from our sin-imposed independence. He must grant repentance and faith. This He does exclusively through the communication of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God’s greatest gifts cannot be discerned by gazing upon a sunset or watching children play. The depth of His love and character can only begin to be known by contemplating the message and meaning of the death of His Son on the cross. Once we truly meet the Savior, then and only then can we properly return our thanks and our lives to Him. Stated another way, it is impossible to rightly worship God without an understanding of the salvation that He has made possible through the death and resurrection of His Son.
God is worthy of our deepest and sincerest worship…and nothing less! Missions exists because this kind of worship doesn’t. If people were capable of truly worshipping God by the testimony of nature alone, there would be no compelling reason for missionary efforts.
But the reality is that people will continue to breathe God’s air, consume His resources, and yet ignore Him…until the gospel pierces their hearts and opens their spiritual eyes. Only then will they bow down and worship.
This should really matter to us. God blesses us so that we can bless the nations with the gospel – so that they, in turn, can return to Him and bless His heart with true worship.