God appears to Abraham and makes some remarkable promises to him. In Genesis 12:2-3,7, we read that God will:
- make him a great nation,
- bless him,
- making his name great,
- bless those who bless him,
- curse those who curse him,
- give him a land.
An impressive list, don’t you think? But in the midst of all of this, God says something else—something that’s oh-so-easy to overlook. In fact, I didn’t include it for that reason. The first phrase is only six words but it changes the way we look at everything. Those six words are, “and you will be a blessing.” Later, God expands upon this by saying, “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
What God is saying to Abraham is remarkably simple and yet deeply profound. He tells him I’m blessing you so that you might bless others. Now it is true that God blesses us and others that we might find enjoyment in His gifts (1 Timothy 6:17). And it is true that we honor Him by receiving those things with gladness and thankfulness. In fact, failure to thank God can be the first step down a slippery slope away from Him (see Romans 1:21ff).
But our enjoyment is only half of the reason why God blesses us. The other half of His purpose in blessing us is so that we might be a blessing to others. This is a core biblical principle. It is true whether we’re talking about Abraham, Israel, or disciples today. The implication is staggering—if we’re not actively seeking to be a blessing to others, we’re only living halfway.
In our heart of hearts, we know this is true. When we look back on our life, will we be satisfied to know that we were greatly blessed—or won’t what we did with those blessings be just as important? I can’t help but think we’ll be like Oskar Schindler as he was saying good-bye to the people he had helped saved in the movie Schindler’s List. They are expressing their gratitude for the 1,100 people he has helped keep out of the death camps. Humbled by their appreciation, Schindler is overcome by the moment and the thought that he could have saved more. He speaks of how much money he wasted. He walks over to his car and speaks of how selling it could have provided enough funds to save ten people. His gold lapel pin could have saved someone. “I could have gotten one more person . . . and I didn’t.” Make no mistake, we will gauge whether or not we lived a full life will be by what we did for others, not simply by what we accumulated.
In the end, being a blessing is how we ultimately show our thankfulness to God. Saying “thank-you,” is where gratitude starts, not where it ends. Be a blessing—that’s our commission.