Blessed to be a Blessing

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3 [NLT]

Show-Off Red Maple | Biltmore Estate, Asheville, SC | April 2021

We were in Oyugis, Kenya. My colleague was teaching:“You may think that because you are a pastor that you are entitled to special treatment. But that’s not the posture of Jesus. Those who are great must be servants.” My colleague was teaching pastors at a PLI training event for pastors and their wives in Kenya. “You might think that you would be honored, have a privileged parking spot, special access to events and the best seats at the gatherings you attend,” he continued. “But this is not what Jesus teaches. He calls us to serve others. Ministry is not a position of privilege, but of service. 

Many folks think only of the privilege and not the responsibility and burden of leadership. I’m not certain Abram realized this when he was first called. But he would soon live out that reality. His life of blessing would be filled with incredible challenges and difficulties. He will stand in the gap for the cities of Sodom and Gomorra. He will climb a mountain with his son to offer an impossibly difficult sacrifice. He will offer his nephew Lot the choice of the best land when the time came. It was his to keep or give. Abram will be a blessing to many nations. 

But he was blessed…to be a blessing. And in that phrase is a powerful lesson. For many people want to be blessed to be blessed. We want the benefit without the responsibility. We want the blessing without the need to steward it well. More money? Let’s take a grand vacation. Let’s dine on the finest foods and enjoy the richest wine. More success? Back up the Perk Truck! New company car, corner office, country club membership, tickets to the opera. The list goes on. 

It seems, however, that there are few perks offered Abram at this point in time. Perhaps one: He would be the father of a great nation. But all this is not solely for his own benefit. Abram learns that he is to be blessed to be a blessing. The enrichment is not to start and stop with him and his family. He will have the name by which all the nations of the earth will be blessed. 

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind is the idea that the word blessing is related to the word for weight. It’s as though the mantle of blessing is a physical weight on the shoulders of those who receive it. Unfortunately, however, this idea must live in our imaginations only, for I am not able to find a reference to back up that idea. Surely, however, there is a weightiness to this blessing of God to Abram. He will wear the yoke of God’s blessing and favor to the glory of God and to our great benefit. For we who believe – according to the Bible – are the true children of Abraham. As such we, too, are blessed to be a blessing. It’s not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. 

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