Monday, July 4, 2016

Responding to Blessing
Part 3:
Passing on God’s Goodness
A third way we are to respond to blessings is to use them and the opportunities they open up to bless others. Psalm 112 provides a great example of that:

1 Alleluia! How blessed is anyone who fears Yahweh, who delights in his commandments! 2 His descendants shall be powerful on earth, the race of the honest shall receive blessings: 3 Riches and wealth for his family; his uprightness stands firm for ever.4 For the honest he shines as a lamp in the dark, generous, tender-hearted, and upright.

5 All goes well for one who lends generously, who is honest in all his dealing; 6 for all time to come he will not stumble, for all time to come the upright will be remembered. 7 Bad news holds no fears for him, firm is his heart, trusting in Yahweh. 8 His heart held steady, he has no fears, till he can gloat over his enemies. 9 To the needy he gives without stint, his uprightness stands firm for ever; his reputation is founded on strength. 10 The wicked are vexed at the sight, they grind their teeth and waste away. The desires of the wicked will be frustrated. (New Jerusalem Bible).

Consider the person described in this psalm. He is Godly man who God has blessed. Although he still has tough stuff to contend with (vv. 7-8), God’s blessings, and just as importantly his solid relationship with God, put him in a position to effectively deliver God’s goodness to others. See vv. 1-3.

So how does he do that?

First, he is good example in a “dark” world. While others are greedy, hard hearted, and crooked, he is “generous, tender-hearted, and upright” v. 4.  He is able to do that because of the confidence that comes from his relationship with God; bad “news holds no fears for him, firm is his heart, trusting in Yahweh” v. 7. This sounds like what St. Paul was talking about in Philippians 2:15 and what Jesus described in Matthew 5:14-16, Matthew 6:19-21, and Matthew 6:33-34.

Second, he helps others by “lend[ing] generously” (v. 5). The Hebrew word used for lend is "lavah."  It carried the meaning of collaboratively working with others.  The sense here is sort of spiritual venture capital; using God’s blessings as a way to help others gain and give blessings. This suggests the attitude of the centurions described in Luke 7:2-5  and Acts 10:1-2, and is the opposite of the selfish mentality illustrated by Luke 12:16-21.

Third, he helps folks who cannot help themselves; to “the needy he gives without stint” v. 9. There are ample scriptural bases for this response, collected here, here,  here, here,  and here.

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