Vol. 3, No. 9
The proper use of physical blessings is essential to salvation. Like airplanes, automobiles or even fire, physical blessings of themselves possess neither good nor bad propensities for their employment. However, they have the potential of being used for good or evil. For instance, the airplane, neither good nor bad of itself, can be used for rescue and medical missions or for war. Automobiles may serve as ambulances or "get-away" cars. Fire can be used for warmth and cooking or to destroy. Blessings enjoyed by Christians, neither good nor bad themselves, can be abused to the harm of one's spiritual welfare.
Great intellect, higher education and abundant knowledge may be a curse to some Christians. While no depreciation of brainpower, scholarship or proficiency is intended, Christians must use lawfully and wisely whatever it is with which God has blessed them. Christians must demonstrate a humble and teachable disposition, like children (Matthew 11:25).
". . . Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3-4).
However, Christians must also exercise intellect in religion (Matthew 22:37). ". . . we . . . desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Colossians 1:9). Yet, particularly secular knowledge can make one "puffed up" and arrogant. God found the world in general and the Corinthian church specifically spiritually deficient, in spite of their possession of knowledge and wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:21; 3:18-21; 8:1). The church can greatly benefit and the Gospel can be widely heralded and defended through the proper application of knowledge (even secular knowledge), or the same knowledge mishandled can harm many Christians and hinder the church in its mission.
Time can be a blessing or a curse depending upon how it is used. One's time can be used to serve Satan or God, but not both (Matthew 6:24).
"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:15-17).
Christians should use time with such proficiency as though they were by present acceleration enabled to recover squandered moments of the past. We need to develop ourselves to the extent we can anywhere, anytime say with the apostle Paul:
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Earthly wealth can be a blessing or a curse, depending upon how it is used. Those who purpose to be rich and make the acquisition of earthly treasures their life's goal, in the same thought, purpose to ruin themselves spiritually (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Riches, even when not freely made the object of our pursuits, can acquire ownership of Christians when the possession of things becomes the primary occupation of life. The "good life," like thorns, can choke the Word of God in us (Luke 8:14).
Earthly treasures cannot compare with treasures in heaven (Matthew 19:21; 1 Timothy 6:19). Christians are repeatedly urged to learn "contentment." It is enough that we have food and clothes (1 Timothy 6:6-8). "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). Yet, it is not wrong to be rich, only one's responsibility of stewardship increases proportionately with wealth (1 Timothy 6:17-18). The heavenly charge is that we seek spiritual things first and concern ourselves with physical needs at some point after that; it's about priorities (Matthew 6:25-34).
Authority can be a blessing or a curse. The abuse of authority spelled the ruin of a Christian named Diotrephes and troubled the church (3 John 10-11). Overbearing elders, deacons, teachers, preachers, employers, police, husbands, fathers, etc. participate in their ruin and hinder those with whom they come in contact. "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn" (Proverbs 29:2). With every blessing one must accept the accompanying responsibility to use that blessing correctly.
Great beauty or personality when diverted to sinful use becomes a curse. Beauty may lead one to immodesty or immorality. One's charisma may lead a salesman or preacher to mislead people. With every blessing there is commensurate accountability.
Great popularity, reputation and worldly honor may lead to compromises of truth and character. Having a "good name" may equate to a measure of popularity, and it is not wrong to be so regarded (Proverbs 22:1). However, one must be careful not to sanction unrighteousness in his life or the lives of others to maintain that esteem. Being "one of the guys" is sometimes sinful, even if it is the popular thing to do (Exodus 23:2). The family pet on a jaunt with a pack of sheep-killing dogs is as likely to be shot as the rest.
For the love of the praise of men some "chief rulers" among the Jews refused to acknowledge Jesus (John 12:42-43), but the apostle Paul and "a great company of the priests" willingly forfeited elusive popularity, reputation and worldly honor in favor of the enduring reward of heaven (Philippians 3:4-8; Acts 6:7). How sad it is that though called by the Gospel, so few souls of earthly distinction respond (1 Corinthians 1:26). While popularity, reputation and worldly honor are not wrong, they bear a weighty obligation to influence others for good with the Gospel.
Even a good moral life and devotion to duty may cause one to despise "publicans" and "sinners" (Luke 18:9-14). It's hard for man to recognize that he is not made better actually or in the eyes of God by the deficiencies that may exist in others. The "good guy" in the account of "the prodigal son" (Luke 15:11-32) became a "bad guy" upon the return of his penitent younger brother. Loyalty to home and duty led the elder son to despise his wayward sibling. Though difficult, even the children of God must learn to love sinners while hating sin. Fortunately, God loves sinners, yet he can have no association with sin (Isaiah 59:1-3).
Fine clothes, cars, homes, meeting houses and many other things can be dangerous, if we depend on these rather than on personal faith, devotion to God, godly lives, evangelism, as well as every spiritual pursuit.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:15-17).
Again, it is a matter of priorities.
Even good health or youthfulness now may keep some from obeying the Gospel. Do we all imagine we will live long and painlessly pass from the scenes of life in our sleep? Do we all further expect to make the necessary (eternal) course corrections well in advance (but not now) of that departure from this world? Are we confident the Lord's final return will not happen in our lifetime? Let us be careful not to despise the long-suffering of the Lord.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness" (2 Peter 3:9-11).
Man simply does not know if there will be a tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1). Man does not know the will of God concerning himself and the next day (James 4:13-15). Any one of us could easily become a statistic enumerated with thousands of others who die annually from auto accident, violent crime or disease. It is possible the Lord could return and time be no more before we age another year (or even a day!). It is also possible to become mentally incapacitated through injury or disease, thereby, precluding the amendment of one's life. Good health and youthfulness are blessings that must be properly invested now to ensure reservations later in mansions above.
Lists of physical blessings, possessing potential for either good or evil application, could be vastly expanded. However, this partial examination sufficiently emphasizes the caution and responsibility that must be exercised toward every blessing. All blessings are intended to be enjoyed by Christians. Blessings, though, greatly increase responsibility. For instance, a good job increases both one's ability and responsibility to give. Worldly honor increases one's responsibility to influence the world with the Gospel. Blessings are like an automobile, neither good nor bad, but someone behind the wheel determines the use and path. How are you using your blessings?