The greatest blessing God ever bestowed upon man was to forgive us our sins.
The Lord often asks seemingly difficult questions with answers that turn out to be simple. So let me ask you one question that is not likely to come up in the average bible class. What is the greatest thing Adam can give Eve?
Don’t be too quick to answer. Always ask the Holy Spirit for help. The greatest thing Adam can give Eve is to forgive her for her sins. If Eve offends Adam, he should be quick to forgive her if she repents. The same applies if Adam offends Eve. Eve should promptly forgive him.
The greatest blessing God ever bestowed upon man was to forgive us our sins. Therefore, the greatest blessing we can ever bestow on others is also to forgive their sins. Nothing is as difficult to give as forgiveness. Nothing commends man to God as much as the forgiveness of sins.
From old to new
In the Old Testament, when God blessed a man, he became rich in goods and property. When he blessed a man, he became fruitful. When God blessed Abraham, he made him the father of many nations. When he blessed Ishmael for Abraham’s sake, Ishmael gave birth to twelve princes. (Genesis 17:20). When Abraham left Egypt, he was materially rich in livestock; and in silver and gold. (Genesis 13:2).
But it should not be forgotten that Abraham and all the people of the Old Testament were born of women but not of the Spirit. It was imperative for God to deal with those who met his approval in those days in the currency they understood. Old Testament figures were natural and not spiritual men. They had the spirit of the world. Therefore, God blessed them with things of the world.
However, New Testament believers are fundamentally different. We are not natural but supernatural men. We are not earthly but heavenly. Therefore, God does not have to bless us with things of the world because we do not have the spirit of the world. Because we now have the Holy Spirit and are spiritually alive to God, God can now bless us with his love, joy and peace.
Today, the believer is operating under a new and better covenant established upon better promises. (Hebrews 8:6). For this reason, God does not have to bless us with temporal earthly things. Instead, he blesses us with eternal heavenly things.
Thus, Paul writes to the Ephesians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3). The true blessings of the Lord are, in the first place, spiritual and not physical. They are in Christ Jesus and not in the world. They are in heavenly places, and not in earthly places.
This means the blessing of the Lord could never be a house, for example. The blessing might enable us to buy a house, but a house cannot be the blessing. A house is not spiritual, and houses are not in Christ Jesus. People who are not in Christ build houses. Atheists have houses. If a house is what we are looking for, we don’t need Christ in order to get one.
Spiritual blessings are infinitely superior to physical, material and financial blessings. Since God is spirit, real blessings must by nature be spiritual. Spiritual blessings are blessings that endure. They are blessings that don’t grow wings and fly away. (Proverbs 23:5). They are the blessings that thieves cannot steal, and fire cannot burn. They are blessings that neither moth nor rust corrupts. (Matthew 6:19-20). They are blessings that cannot be killed or destroyed. (John 10:10).
The blessing of the Lord must be fundamentally different from the blessing of men. Jesus says to his disciples: “Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14:27). God’s blessing is in a special category all by itself. Accordingly, Solomon says: “The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22). In effect, the blessings of the Lord are not riches, but they make one rich.
Can a car, for example, be a blessing of the Lord? Certainly not! A car is manufactured with the wisdom from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Therefore, it has both the good and the evil in it. It can cause an accident at any time. It can kill someone and thereby bring sorrow. For it to be a blessing of the Lord, under no circumstances can it ever be the source of sorrow.
Lateef Aminu told me a story. While on a trip with the late M.K.O. Abiola, Abiola phoned his wife, Simbiat, who was then in hospital in London, sick with cancer. After asking about her health, he told her excitedly about the new plane he had just bought. He waxed lyrical about the wonderful high-tech gadgets in it. He told her how glorious it was to fly in it.
But what difference does it make to a terminally sick woman how glorious a plane is? I can understand it if he were telling her about a new wonder-drug he had just bought which he could heal her. But a new plane he was flying in? I don’t think she would be too interested.
Pay a visit to the emergency ward in a hospital and give the patients the most expensive shoes in the world and they would not be excited. Give them designer-jeans, or Rolex watches, and they would not appreciate it. Give a sick man his favourite dish and he might have no appetite. But give him Jesus and his condition would be transformed. This is because Jesus is a blessing for all seasons. However, Jesus is not of this world.
For a blessing to be a blessing, it must always be a blessing. A blessing is a blessing is a blessing. For that reason, men would always want it. But if a so-called blessing is suddenly not a blessing any more, it must be because it was never really a blessing in the first place. It might have seemed like a blessing, but then it proved not to be so.
If on a man’s deathbed, you cannot interest him in lands and property, or in Rolex watches and cars, or in promotion and public acclaim, then it is clear none of the above is really a blessing. Indeed, if you give a man a Rolex watch on his deathbed it might make him sorrowful, knowing he would not be able to use it. If you give him landed property on his deathbed, he might be upset knowing someone else would be its beneficiary.
But there must be something you can give to anybody anywhere and at any time that would always be a blessing to them. One thing is clear, that thing would have to be spiritual. It would have to be something that pertains to this life and to the after-life. It would have to be something that would remain relevant and invaluable in sickness and in health: in life and in death.
That thing is the blessing of the Lord.