On Saturday evenings, we end our services with a Q & A. This past weekend, I spoke from Genesis 32 and encouraged our people to wrestle with God like Jacob. He said, "I will not let You go until I get a blessing!"
One question afterwards was this:
"It feels arrogant and prideful to ask God to bless me. Shouldn't we just 'be content' with where we are and what we have? Aren't we already blessed?"
This was a great question.
Here's my response:
Should we be content? Absolutely! "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have" (Philippians 4:11). "True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth" (I Timothy 6:6). Should we be thankful for what we already have? Absolutely! "Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (I Thessalonians 5:18). Should we think of ourselves as already blessed? Absolutely! "All praise to God... who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms..." (Ephesians 1: 3).
Yet the Bible is filled with scripture that indicate that it is good and right to cry out to God for blessings. "With all my heart I want your blessings" (Psalm 119:58). “I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26). "May God be merciful and bless us. May his face smile with favor on us" (Psalm 67:1).
It is good a right to cry out to God for His favor. "Let your favor shine on your servant. In your unfailing love, rescue me" (Psalm 31:16). "Send me a sign of your favor" (Psalm 86:17). "Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people" (Psalm 106:4).
It is good to ask God for His face to shine on us. "Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us" (Psalm 80:3). "Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved" (Psalm 80:7).
Plus, Bible characters like Jacob (Genesis 32) and Jabez (I Chronicles 4) cried out to God for blessings. These things happened to them as examples for us.
So, how can we pursue God for blessings, favor, and a shining face while at the same time be content and thankful?
I think that God is checking out our motives. When we ask for God's favor with hearts of contentment and gratitude, it's not about us. It's about Him.
If we want God's favor and blessings for selfish, materialistic reasons, then God sees right through that! We don't get answers to many of our prayers because we are asking with the wrong motives (James 4:3).
We must let God set the "blessing agenda" for our lives. We don't pursue God so He will bless our plans. We pursue God so He will plan our blessings. God plans the blessings, not us.
We must want God's favor not so we can be fulfilled and comfortable, but so our lives can demonstrate God's glory.
Like Jacob, after wrestling with God, we may end up with a limp, but that place in our lives that's "out-of-joint" will show His glory even more. When God comes through for us in spite of the limp, people have to recognize His grace and power.
So,we pursue his favor for His fame. And that produces, not pride, but humility.
So, let's wrestle with God. It's good and right to say with Jacob, "I will not let You go until You bless me."