Count Your Many Blessings — But Use Them

by Kent Heaton

As a nation, we are blessed in measures far exceeding the majority of people in the world. The material wealth possessed by Americans may seem rather routine but in most countries owning a pair of shoes is like owning a rare jewel. Stores often are filled to the brim with an abundance of food while most people in the world struggle to find enough food to enjoy an adequate diet. Johnson Oatman wrote that great hymn, "Count Your Blessings" which renders the chorus as, "Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your blessings, see what God hath done." People of God should recognize where all blessings flow and daily be thankful for the blessings bestowed by the Heavenly Father.

The challenge of our blessings is those things we are so thankful for can become our curse. In Luke 12 the rich man had many things to be thankful for. Jesus spoke the parable when He said, "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12:16-21).

The rich man could sing about the joy of counting his blessings but the problem with the rich man was what he did with his blessings - nothing. His hardened heart for the needs of others closed his heart to the one who gave him his wealth. How often have we looked at our lives and remarked as this man, "I have many goods laid up for many years; enjoy life and live off the fruit of my blessings" and never think of those in need?

In the judgment scene of Matthew 25:31-46, the pronouncement of guilt or innocence was based solely upon the benevolent heart of the person. Those who were blessed were those who counted their blessings and used them to God's glory (Matthew 25:34-40). To the ones who were condemned (and to their dismay - Matthew 25:41-45) the opportunities to use their blessings for God's glory were lost in their selfish spirit like the rich man in Luke 12. They counted their many blessings and kept their many blessings to themselves.

God also offers a reality check for all of our material blessings in the story of the rich man. When the rich man died, the Lord said to him, "whose will those things be which you have provided?" Solomon understood this in Ecclesiastes 2:17-19. "Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity."

We should count our many blessings and name them one by one. When we finish with our inventory then we should use our blessings for the glory of God. "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28). When we die we will leave all those blessings but let us leave our influence for good by our example.

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