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God is Not a Vending Machine

A few days ago, I was scrolling through Facebook, and I ran across a meme. I’ve seen this meme a lot–many people share it. I hate this meme. You’ve probably have seen it. The one that says, “Like and share if you love Jesus. Keeping scrolling if you love Satan.” These memes always have cheesy pictures, like Satan and Jesus in a big arm wrestling match. Ugh. No. God is not like, “Oh look, Sally kept scrolling. BAM! Her name is wiped out of the Book of Life.” And secondly, do we really think that the Ruler of All will be arm wrestling some puny serpent?

So, I kept scrolling, and the next meme I came across was the one I want to talk about today. This one made me angry. You might have seen this one too. It had a really bad image of Jesus, and it said, “Share and God will bless you.”

I know that this meme was intended for good, and whoever created it wasn’t thinking like I am, but I think promising people that if they do something as miniscule as sharing a stupid photo on social media, they can receive blessings from God. God is not a genie, or as someone much cleverer than I am put it, God is not a vending machine. Salvation isn’t pressing all the right buttons, and out comes our blessings.

And then God began to turn the mirror on myself. Isn’t this exactly what I’ve been doing? How many times have I worked so hard, pressing the right buttons until my fingers bled, hoping that God will bless me? Maybe if I do this really really good, God will then bless me in an amazing way.

But that isn’t how it works, is it? That isn’t how any of this works.Our salvation, the greatest blessing of all is free. We didn’t deserve it. God gave it freely. Have you ever walked up to a vending machine, prepared to put your money in and something extra is laying there, free? It’s like that!  And I think this can apply to all blessings. We can see that from looking at the story of Abraham, the father of many nations.

The Lord said to Abram: “Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who curse you, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” –Genesis 12:1-3

Abraham didn’t deserve it.  It wasn’t like Abraham did all these great things–completely sinless–and God decided to blessed him. God blessed him with a land, and many descendants because of His love, not because of anything Abraham did. In my own life, I can’t expect do all of these things, and expect God to bless me. Like, “Hey God I did my quiet time, give me a blessing!” Abraham’s blessing didn’t come from his actions, but from God.

Sometimes blessings are a lot different than what we think they should be. They aren’t always sunshine and roses. After Abraham and Sarah are blessed with Isaac, he is asked to sacrifice him. I know that the story isn’t something we try to focus on, but God asked Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Can you imagine what he must have been thinking?

A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised those who love him. –James 1:12

Trials are blessings? I don’t know about you, but whenever I am going through a tough trial in my life, I never think of it as a blessing. It is only after the trial has passed do I sometimes realize God’s hand in all of it. Sometimes blessings come in disguise.

So, where does this leave us? I think we can find truth and encouragement in Abraham’s response. When God told him to pack up his family, he obeyed. When God told him to sacrifice his son, he obeyed. God loves to bless his children. That’s his character. His design was for his children to be blessed. And the closer we cling to him, obeying him when he tells us to move,  the more we recognize his blessings, even the trials, and the more we will realize that it isn’t because of any of our doing, but because God gives it to us freely because of his great love. He is the Father through which all blessings flow.

Father, thank you for blessing me, even though I don’t deserve it. I pray that you will teach me how to obey you better. Help me to cling to you and your Word more. Help me to look for your blessings, and God, thank you for sending Jesus, the greatest blessing of all. Amen.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.– 2 Corinthians 9:8 

 

 

Related: From Ragdolls to Treasure: God’s Love for Us, With All My Soul

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