Greetings brothers and sisters!
When we looked at the death of Abraham and the death of Ishmael in Genesis 25:1-18 last Sunday, we saw this principle: God is faithful to His people regardless of their social status. We see this exemplified in how the LORD treats Abraham’s three wives (note, this passage is not focusing on polygamy as good or bad; it shows God working through the culture of the time). Sara, Abraham’s first and primary wife had the highest social status. Her son, Isaac, inherited most of Abraham’s possessions and God’s promises of the land of Canaan for his descendents and that he would be blessed so that he could be a blessing to those around him (Genesis 12:1-3). Keturah, also married to Abraham, had a “secondary” social status. Her sons received gifts from Abraham and the land east of Canaan. Finally, Hagar, had the lowest social status of the three wives and was ultimately divorced by Abraham. But her son, Ishmael, received land to the southeast of Canaan and he also received God’s blessings. You see, God doesn’t have just enough capacity to bless the greatest in social standing, like our culture often does. God has unlimited capacity to bless His people and He’s not stingy!
If we’re going to live effectively as disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to incorporate this kind of thinking into our routine actions. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus begins his ministry by announcing his intention to “proclaim good news to the poor,” and to “proclaim liberty to the captives,” and to help the blind to see, and to “set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:16-21). Jesus has an amazing ability to connect with everyone from the highest to the lowest in social standing and he doesn’t discriminate (although he does seem to show exceptional kindness and favor to the poor). Jesus gives us this model to aspire to.
One way that living our lives in ways that bless those around us regardless of social standing is challenging for us is because we have a tendency to hang out with people “like us.” Think about this for a minute – what common characteristics does your core group of friends share? Are there some characteristics that no one in your core group of friends really have? This suggests that we’ll have to be very intentional about crossing social boundaries if we really intend to be a blessing to everyone around us.
Here are some suggestions for intentionally crossing social boundaries like Jesus. First, think and pray about the different groups that you do come into contact with that you may not have been aware of. For example, I don’t know any billionaires, so I’m not likely to have contact with people in this group. But I do know some wealthier people – how can I be a blessing to them? What are some other groups that I come into contact with but don’t really engage with? Spend some time praying and brainstorming about these possibilities. Second, think and pray about some different ways you might be able to bless these people. How might God be leading you to serve them? What can you give them (Note that Jesus didn’t typically give financially or materially)? Is there something in their lives that, from God’s perspective, they’re lacking? Finally, just do it! Bless those around you that you might not have even considered blessing before. Our goal here in doing this isn’t self-gratification, but see if you find that, in blessing others, you end up being blessed!
Grace and peace,