How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.
- Psalm 31:19 NIV
After I dedicated my children to the Lord about 7 years ago, my son, John, began taking an interest in art. He had never demonstrated any real artistic talent as he was growing up, so it never occurred to me or my husband to encourage him to take art lessons. But by the time he was a junior in high school, he was showing some impressive artistic abilities. His art teacher encouraged him to enter the annual art show, and though he had some misgivings, John decided to submit some of his best work. I knew that if my son won first place in the show, it would really boost his confidence and self-esteem. Because he led his public high school's Bible Club and wore Christian t-shirts almost everyday, there were times when he was ridiculed and even threatened by other students. I knew that winning the art show, which drew a lot of attention at his school each year, would help John to win the respect of his teachers and fellow students. So I began praying earnestly for my son to win. He was competing with students who had taken art lessons since they were very young and who showed great promise as artists, so I prayed that God would give John favor in the sight of all the judges and everyone else involved in the contest. When my family and I got the news that John won first place in the art show, we were awestruck. But it wasn't until we went to school and saw all the art work he was competing against that we realized what a miracle the Lord had worked on our behalf. And as we had hoped, John won the respect and admiration of his teachers and fellow students as a result of his recognition.
Some Christians might have felt uncomfortable praying as I did for my son to win the art show. But I believe that it's completely scriptural to ask God to bless us in ways that cause us to stand out. Isaiah 61:9 says that "All who see [us] will acknowledge that [we] are a people the Lord has blessed." And Isaiah 66:14 TLB says that "All the world will see the good hand of God upon his people." Psalm 112:6 TLB promises that "God's constant care of [us] will make a deep impression on all who see it." All of these verses indicate that the Lord wants to bless us so radically that it will be evident to others. When my son's art work won first place, the respect he gained from others enhanced his witness as a Christian and as the leader of the school's Bible Club. So John's win didn't only benefit him--it inspired others and glorified God. There's nothing wrong with asking God for favor and blessings if we do so with a right heart. Genesis 12:2 reveals that one of the main reasons God blesses us is so that we can be a blessing to others. It's difficult to be a blessing to others when you're not blessed yourself! But be prepared, because the devil is not going to stand idly by while you strive to stand out for God's glory. He's going to put people in your path who will become offended by your blessings so that you'll feel so guilty and condemned that you'll be tempted to apologize for them. But don't do it. Keep praying for the Lord's favor and blessings, knowing that they will bring Him the honor that He deserves. May this promise from God be planted deep in your heart today: "You're goodness is so great! You have stored up great blessings for those who honor You. You have done so much for those who come to You for protection, blessing them before the watching world"! (Psalm 31:19 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, please give me an understanding of how and why it's Your desire to bless me and my loved ones. Help me to always pray for Your blessings for the right reasons, rather than out of pride or selfishness. Teach me how to share my blessings cheerfully and generously. Thank You that my blessings will impress others and glorify You!
- J. M. Farro