In the springtime pollen fills my grocery cart with Kleenex. I sneeze every season as I go outside. Still I love the spring. I can’t stay out of the flowers and sunshine. It’s got me thinking…
In spring, in life, in everything… the blessings we experience come with a burden attached to it.
For you, it may not be pollen in spring but it may be a different kind of burden in your what you perceive as a blessing. And you’re wondering why there’s a crack in what you thought was good.
God has a purpose in this.
Learning to embrace the burden with gratitude directly impacts our capacity to receive joy from the blessing and nurture the blessing.
I’m reminded of a story in the gospel of Matthew called the parable of the talents.
In this story, Jesus tells the disciples about 3 servants whom the master entrusted his property to. As the master leaves, he gives each servant an amount of money to take care of. 2 of the servant take care of that money and invest it so that it can prodice more for the master when he returns. But 1 servant digs a hole in the dirt and buries it.
This duality of stewardship and neglect is fascinating in this story. 2 servants seek to nurture what was given. But 1 buries it in the ground and doesn’t want to nurture it. 2 servants see the burden as an opportunity to serve their master as a faithful worker. But 1 sees the burden as inconvenient and doesn’t want the responsibility.
Isn’t it interesting that so often we take what God gave and we “bury it” or keep it for ourselves. Sometimes we don’t mean to do this.
Maybe you have been praying so long for something and you finally receive it and you think that’s what God intended.
For you just to receive it and possess it.
And that is part of it.
But this is not the goal God intends when He gives a blessing.
God gives with an expectation that we will nurture what He gave.
And the growth and fullness of its potential is contingent on this.
Benefiting from a blessing doesn’t come through the initial receiving, it comes from taking care of it over time. Nurturing the blessing is what produces fruit and produces joy for you and for everyone else involved.
“And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”
The master comes back and he rewards the 2 servants who took care of what He gave. But he rebukes the servant who neglected his provision and has no growth to show for it.
“He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?”
So often we want a blessing that costs us nothing.
But that’s not a blessing… it’s a set-up for dissatisfaction. We appreciate what we sacrifice for. We value what we have invested in. So difficulties position us to give of ourselves. And in that giving, we find life and true satisfaction.
In this passage, the servant who neglects the talent given blames it on his assumption about the master being “harsh.” However, the other servants do not mention anything about the master’s harshness. Rather, they willfully obeyed him. And the master says to them, “you will now experience my joy.”
The servants who saw the master rightly benefited from his kindness.
I’m reminded how you see God also affects how you see your blessing.
If you see God only as a source of what you want, you will see him in relation to how he either gives or takes, and simultaneously connect that to a view of him being harsh. That what the last servant does. And you will not steward well what He gives.
But if you see God as one who gives blessings so that we can steward them well, like the 2 servants do, you will see Him as good and be thrilled to honor Him with it. Then we will see Him as a good God who grows us through what He gives and wants to lavish with more provision.
When God blesses us with something good, there remains an invitation for us to take ownership of that blessing.
With ownership comes the responsibility to appreciate it, value it and take care of it… this is where the burden surfaces. And this where our blessings either multiply or ruin in our care.
When we neglect to do our part, our first reaction is to blame God and deflect ownership of our mistakes. When we haven’t stewarded our resources well, that’s on us. We must learn from the servants who seek to honor the master. They experience fullness of joy and are blessed with more.
I’m convicted when I read this story.
Am I taking care of what God gave me? Or am I expecting what God gave me to take care of me?
If we see the blessing as something that serves us, we miss the opportunity to serve God with the blessing. And we will not be blessed with more. When we look to serve with the blessing instead of expecting the blessing to serve us, it flourishes in our care and we receive more because of our diligence to honor God with it.
How can you serve God with the blessing He gave you?
The two workers who humbled themselves to serve their master in what He gave them produced more joy for themselves. The master came back and gave them even more responsibility and leadership over his land.
Just like flowers that flourish when put in sunlight and watered regularly, when you take care of your blessing, it naturally grows. And whatever it grows into, whether big or small, God will be pleased with it because He knows your heart’s intention was to take care of it.
The key of the parable is faithfulness to nurture what God gave you even when it costs you.
Think about your blessing… now think about the difficulties associated with it. That is the burden. Now think of ways you can serve the Lord in those burdens with a heart of thankfulness and appreciation. That is how you nurture your blessing.
Anything that seeks the blessing’s welfare above your own is way of nurturing your blessing.
Anything that cultivates sacrifice and faithfulness to what you have is a way to nurture your blessing.
Your blessing (relationship, job, resources, friendships) flourishes when you die to yourself and seek to serve God with the blessing instead of expecting the blessing to serve you. And as you do, you’ll find its worth the burden. For God promises to give you life in exchange.
“Those who lose their life for my sake will find it. But those who wish to save their life in this world will lose it.”
Nurturing your blessing is something you can discern as you spend time with Jesus. Ask Him to show you how and give you a heart to do so.
I remember when I got my first job.
I was 16 years old guiding guests to their seats amidst the smell of ribs and onion rings. I was a hostess at the local BBQ restaurant. And so excited about this job! The menial tasks and the hours of standing before a slow revolving door seemed trivial compared to the whopping paycheck of $6.50 an hour. Today I’d reconsider that as a blessing. But to me as a teenager it was an incredible blessing and opportunity for independence.
When we value the blessing God gives, we see don’t see the burdens associated with it as burdensome.
There’s something about gratitude and a season of lack that makes the provision that much sweeter. And makes the burdens worth it.
Years later, I got my first full-time job teaching kindergarten. And this time, there wasn’t a slow revolving door. Rather it was an open door of whirlwind days with goldfish crumbs and ABC’s. In this season there were days I struggled to appreciate the blessing God gave me. And the burdens would outweigh the blessing. It’s taken time and more life experience to now be thankful for that first year teaching. I’m much more appreciative and it’s changed the way that I perceive life and opportunities now.
I’m learning to value the burdens in every season, knowing that God’s purposes make the blessing worth it.
We must ask ourselves, do we see the good things in our life as a burdensome or as worth the burden?
Your answer to that question determines your capacity to experience joy from what God has lavished. As we let God transform our hearts, we discover the burdens are actually working to our advantage.
Burdens develop our character.
Burdens kill the tendency to want to please the self.
Burdens destroy a spirit of entitlement.
Burdens reminds us we are meant to give not take.
Burdens remind us we are here to serve.
Burdens realign our hearts on Jesus as the satisfier instead of the blessing.
Burdens cultivate faithfulness and gratitude.
Burdens are the blessing.
I’m thankful for the difficulties that have accompanied every blessing. For they have grown me into who I am now and I know there is more yet to work in my heart yet to come.
Real blessings are worth the burden.
So I guess I’ll keep smelling the flowers in spring. I’ll keep frolicking in the grass. I’ll keep basking in the sun. For Kleenex is always on sale this time of year. And the pollen is worth it to me.
Questions for Today:
- Why are blessings worth the burden?
- How are the burdens in my blessing growing me as a person?
- Why is it important that I seek to serve the God of blessing instead of waiting for the blessing to serve me?
- How am I taking care of the blessing God gave me?
- What ways can I serve & honor God more with what He provided?