Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Reason for Blessings

When we consider our accomplishments it is very easy to be filled with pride. Whether we arrived from the old country with twenty dollars in our pocket or rose up through the ranks of corporate America, our normal point of view is to say to ourselves, “You have done a great job! Congratulations!” Unfortunately we tend to forget that we didn’t accomplish it on our own, but I’m not talking only about the other people who helped us in our accomplishments. Even more than the people who helped us are the other gifts and opportunities provided by God.

Today’s Gospel begins with the words, “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plenty...” (Luke 12.16) In this case God provided the soil, the rain, the sun, the minerals, even the very seeds he used. There was nothing the man used, to plant and harvest his crops that were not provided by God. This is why in the Divine Liturgy we pray, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming from You the Father of Lights.” The rich man in the Gospel forgot this singular truth about his accomplishments.... “If it is good, it comes from God.”

The problem isn’t in accomplishing good things, but when we forget where those good things come from. When we think we are the source of goodness, we also tend to think we are in control of our circumstances. The rich man said, “I KNOW what I’ll do....” as if he was in control of the sun, the soil, the rain and minerals in the soil. His eyes weren’t on thanking God but praising himself. He lost sight of why God has blessed him with such a great crop in the first place. “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” (Luke 12.20)

God doesn’t bless us so we can praise ourselves. He blesses us so that we can bless others and lift others up. We run the risk of being a fool if we think our blessings are for us to enjoy ourselves. Such is the opportunity of holidays like Thanksgiving. This week we have a unique opportunity to come to Church on a day dedicated to thanking God. What would be the result if we spent this week focusing on thanking God for the blessings He has given to us, and THEN using those blessings to help others?

The fool is the one who stores up treasurers for his own pleasure. “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12. 21) This week I would like to challenge each of you to consider the blessings that God has given to you and thank Him by helping someone else. Here are just a couple ways you can thank God this week...

Bring food to a local soup kitchen or emergency pantry
Donate supplies for the local Thanksgiving “give-away” (every town does something this week)

It doesn’t have to be complicated or over the top, but it does have to come from your heart. You can’t focus on yourself when you are helping others. Let’s face it, there is a reason for the blessings that God has given you. This year for Thanksgiving, start with helping someone else.

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