As a writer, I have all sorts of ideas about what I want to discuss and there’s been this one idea floating around my head for a while that honestly has given me pause to put on paper. Sometimes I test my ideas out on a Bible study class I facilitate to see if it has legs or not, and I did so with this idea a few months ago. I’m not sure about the reaction, yet I can’t get it out of my head. So instead of preaching on it and bombing, or writing a book on it that nobody reads, I thought I’d use an extended blog to flush out the details and see what you think!
As I’ve looked over my life I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing more painful than a lost blessing. I’m not talking about your normal, everyday kind of loss. Instead I’m talking about something you know is a direct blessing from God that is taken away by God because you didn’t handle the blessing the right way. I hope that few of you have experienced this, but I’m afraid that the truth is many of us have.
Scripture is full of stories of lost blessing from which we should learn lessons for our own lives. I want to take more than my standard few minutes to go through some of these stories and what they teach us.
Adam and Eve
The most obvious lost blessing happened to Adam and Eve. I think most people know the basics of the story so let’s start by outlining what God gave to them and then what they lost and its lesson to us.
God gave Adam and Eve paradise, which included a close, personal relationship with Him, and a life of purpose and direction that likely would be eternal. Of course, Adam and Eve couldn’t manage one simple command and lost it all, resulting in lost relationship with God, hardship in marriage, hardship in work, and hardship in mind, body, and spirit. Oh yeah, nature fell, too, resulting in all the natural disasters we have, as well as diseases affecting us, such as cancer.
So what is the lesson of this lost blessing for us? Beware of talking snakes? For me I hear God saying, “You can do this the easy way or the hard way, your choice.” And by “this” I mean our lives. Adam and Eve took the hard way by not doing what God had asked them to do. More to the point, they didn’t trust God that He was doing what was in their best interest. Have you ever noticed that when you don’t do what God asks you to it usually results in the hard way as well?
Thus the moral of this story is God will indeed give you free will to choose whatever you want. But as Paul tells us, while everything is permissible not all things are good (1 Corinthians 10:23). If you choose not to do things God’s way you may find yourself having a much harder time in life than you need to.
Where to start with this bunch! Let me use the story of when they wanted a king just like all the other nations (1 Samuel 8). The prophet Samuel had been leading Israel by communicating God’s wishes to the people. The blessing the Israelites had was clear: God had chosen them as His people and He Himself would lead them into prosperity! But as Samuel aged the Israelites asked for a king like all the other nations, turning their back on God as their leader. God obliged with a fairly stern warning about what would happen.
Of course, human kings fail and instead of having the power and leadership of the living God Israel found itself tied to the success or failure of human kings. And as we know from reading the books of Kings 1 and Kings 2, most of the kings in Israel (and Judah) were pretty crappy.
This holds and interesting lesson for me. This was not so much a lost blessing as it was a rejected blessing! God would have taken care of Israel had they remained faithful to Him. Instead the people rejected this blessing in favor of being like everyone else. Do you see where I’m heading with this?
We reject God’s blessings in our life every day when we, too, want to be just like everyone else! God cannot do the work in our lives He has planned for us when we place job, money, family, ego, and all the other idols we have in the place of God…just like all the other people around us do. It’s pretty simple: Follow God and be blessed, reject God’s leadership in your life and you’ll get what you get.
So Saul was Israel’s first King and at first he was God-fearing and did as God commanded. But like all of us Saul backslid as his fame grew. The key moment for Saul is when he grows impatient waiting for Samuel who is to perform a ritual sacrifice so that God will bless Saul’s next military action. Instead Saul does it himself, thinking he’s king so he can do anything. Oops! God punishes Saul by taking away the blessing of kingship and bestowing it on young David.
I don’t know if you know the story or not, but Saul pretty much loses his mind and tries to kill David several times without success. David, however, stays faithful to both Saul and God. Saul ends up falling on his sword having lost a battle and David is made king.
I gain two lessons from this story. First, when God blesses you with something, you have to do it His way not your own. The blessing belongs to God not you and to maximize that blessing it only makes sense to follow God’s rules for that blessing.
But second, I also see that one can become quite prideful and arrogant when God has given a blessing, especially when that blessing is leadership. Jesus taught us that we are to be servant leaders, but Saul in his pride thought he had authority over everything not just those things God placed under him. For us, we must be extremely careful that if God blesses us with any type of leadership over people that we do not let our egos determine our leadership style, but instead follow God’s word or as we see here, God will remove that blessing from your life.
Do you remember the Bathsheba thing? King David is established on his throne and he is supposed to be out with his army for the spring campaign but instead is in his palace, hanging out on the deck watching Bathsheba take a bath. Overcome with lust, David has Bathsheba brought to him for the night. Here’s some more on this story.
Bathsheba is the wife of Uriah the Hittite. This is not just some random solider in David’s army. Uriah is one of David’s inner circle of the so-called “Mighty Men” who were with David when he was on the run being pursued by King Saul. Uriah was not just a loyal lieutenant, but a close friend of David’s. This probably means David knew Bathsheba before this incident, and it probably wasn’t the first time David was on the roof checking her out.
As the story goes, Bathsheba gets pregnant and David first brings Uriah home from the front so he will sleep with his wife and think the child is his. But when that doesn’t work, David sends Uriah back to the front with instructions for the commander to place him in the front line so that he will be killed, which he is. Once he dies, David claims Bathsheba as his own.
So where’s the blessing and loss in all this? Well, Bathsheba gives birth to a boy and we learn later that he probably would have been the heir to David’s thrown. But God takes this blessing from David for his transgression and the child dies. (Note: We think that the child would have been the heir because Bathsheba’s next son with David is Solomon who does become King).
This is an interesting lesson for me. First and foremost it’s vital that we all understand that nothing escapes God’s eye! He knows everything we do and the motives from which we do it. That means if you have a blessing God will know if you’re handling it correctly not just from appearances but from your motive and heart as well.
But there’s more to learn. David should have been out in the field with his army not at home; he ignored his duty which resulted in his temptation and ultimate sin. Second, he betrayed a good friend not just by having an affair but by both trying to deceive him and then having him killed to cover up David’s own actions. When you don’t do your duty and then betray your friends only bad things can happen in your life.
Lastly you learn that lust (especially for men) is a damnable condition that causes more lost blessings than perhaps any other single temptation in this fallen world. Even a man after God’s own heart like David can screw up by the trappings of lust.
So you thought that perhaps the king who was blessed by God as the wisest man who ever lived could escape a lost blessing. Unfortunately no.
Solomon writes in his autobiography the Book of Ecclesiastes that he tried everything there was to try, and did everything there was to do. He wasn’t kidding! He had great wealth, built cities, conquered lands, owned horses, chariots, slaves, and whatever else his heart desired. He had a 1000 wives and concubines. Yet he failed his blessing.
God had been pretty clear to Solomon that there were things he should not do, including not marrying foreign women who worshiped idols. He also was not to collect horses and not to send Israelites to Egypt for any reason. Pretty much Solomon broke all those boundaries. In fact, he even built shines for his wives’ gods and worshiped with them!
While everyone came to seek out Solomon’s wisdom it is clear when you read his book that he is not happy. Throughout the book he talks about all the things he did, which were done to give him some type of personal fulfillment. Yet he says they were all “chasing after the wind.” Only at the end of the book toward the end of his life does Solomon realize the only thing that mattered was is relationship with God, which he had ignored as he sought pleasure and prestige his whole life. Solomon lost the blessing of being a friend of God during his reign and was miserable and unfulfilled because of it.
Our lesson is clear – the world cannot bring you happiness and contentment, only God can. God is a blessing in your life right now but you can ignore that blessing as Solomon did by focusing on bringing pleasure and prestige to himself with no real return.
God raised Sampson up to be a great warrior to save his people from foreign oppression. Sampson was blessed with incredible strength, which he was to use to free his people. The only condition was Sampson not drink wine and not cut his hair.
Sampson did not drink wine, but he was drunk in his own power, using his blessing for self-aggrandizement instead of saving his people. His enemies found a woman to entice Sampson to the point where he would tell the secret of his power. Sampson toys with her at first but eventually tells her that if his hair is cut he will lose his strength. Of course, she cuts his hair and his enemies capture him, pluck out his eyes, and torture him. In the end, God answers Sampson’s last request to be given his strength back one more time so that he can bring the walls down on top of his enemies and himself. But this was not God’s intent for Sampson.
When I was younger I struggled with this issue: Sometimes you believe your blessing is about you and not God, and in that belief you do stupid stuff that will cost you that blessing. God blesses us for His good purpose to further His kingdom. Yes we benefit from these blessings but it’s not about us; it’s about God! Miss that point and chances are good you will lose a significant blessing in your life.
Lest you think lost blessing are just an Old Testament thing, let me share just a few quick ones from the New Testament.
- The “Rich Young Ruler” loses the blessing Jesus offers him to become a disciple because he likes his stuff more than he likes Jesus.
- Most of the disciples following Jesus walk away from Him when he tells them in John 6 that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood to be worthy of Him. They lost the blessing of discipleship and perhaps eternal life because they could not (would not) discern between literal statements and figures of speech. They had no ears to hear Jesus, but the 12 apostles remained.
- Jesus came first for the Jew and then for the Gentile. However, the Jews did not believe that Jesus was their messiah, ignoring clear messianic prophecy because Jesus did not come in the form they wanted Him in. So even to this day Jews wait for a messiah who already has come and offered them eternal life.
As you can see, the New Testament focuses on a single blessing: Jesus’ gift of Salvation and eternal life. But there is more. When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior you are blessed in a number of ways, including:
- Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
- Revelation of Scripture and Truth
- Spiritual Gifts to use to further God’s kingdom
- Spiritual Fruit that will change your life (Love, Peace, Joy, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control)
- Transformation into a new creation in Christ who sees the world through God’s eyes
- Brothers and Sisters in Christ who encourage and support you
These are just the well-known blessings from God. Each person has even more that come their way from a God who loves you especially!
As someone who has lost God’s blessings in my past I wanted to share this so that perhaps you can look at your life and not make the same mistakes I made, even though I am in pretty good Biblical company. Losing a blessing from God is brutal because you know it was your own fault and you know that you’ll never get that blessing back again.
But God is good. He uses all things for the good of those who love Him so you will be blessed again once you prove you are mature enough to handle the next blessing. It won’t be the one you lost – that’s over and done with – but it will be a blessing that can glorify God and impact your life!
The take away I hope you get from this diatribe is that you should take stock of your blessings. Make a list of them and determine what they are, why you received them, what you’re supposed to do with them to glorify God, and are you handling them the right way? My hope and prayer for you is that God blesses you richly and you glorify Him in all ways. But if you see something on your list that gives you pause, my advice for you is get together with God immediately and determine what He wants you to do and then do it before you lose out on something important to you in your life.