Blessings and cursings


                “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled.  Blessed are you who weep now for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you […] for the Son of Man’s sake […] for indeed your reward is great in heaven […] But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  Woe to you who are full, for you shall hunger.  Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.  Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6: 20-26.)


                Blessings and cursings were an intimate part of the Jewish culture.  Many Jews would bring their children to the rabbi’s for a formal blessing.  A blessing is a prophetic profession of some impending future good in an individual’s life.  A cursing however, foretells of some future calamity.  The blessings Jesus pronounced upon the crowds depended entirely upon their reaction to his message.  Those who chased after the passing pleasures of this life would ultimately enter in to unending sorrow.  Those who chose to deny their own desires in order serve God and others would eventually inherit eternal rewards.  Embracing sacrifice is a requirement for every true believer; some sacrifices may include: wealth, a career, power, property, selfish pleasures, sinful indulgences, and even a good reputation.  Because the path to peace with God includes enduring much present pain (self-denial), the majority of individuals will continue to reject the gospel message entirely.

                In order to understand this scripture, we need only look at the modern day credit card crisis.   Americans possess more personal debt than any time in history.  The problem is the direct result of extreme self-indulgence.  When a person goes out shopping and they can’t afford something, many will pay with a credit card to avoid denying themselves some pleasure.  But paying for things with money you don’t have doesn’t make the pain disappear, it simply postpones it.  Eventually the credit company is going to come looking for their money; at which point those who have selfishly indulged their fleshly appetites will endure the suffering they so desperately attempted to avoid.

                Many people have spent an entire lifetime avoiding pain and indulging in pleasure; the pain however hasn’t been eliminated, it has simply been deferred.  Eventually they are going to have ‘pay the check.’  Chasing after wealth, material possessions, careers, food, and even a good reputation will lead to an eternity of pain.  Self-denial is the way to inherit eternal blessings.  Volunteer work, giving excess money away to the needy, spending time listening to others, taking the time to evangelize, visiting widows, orphans, the elderly, working with someone caught in an addiction, caring for the sick, giving people rides, are all just a few of the ways we can deny ourselves in this life.  Where can you deny yourself to better serve others?  What do you have in excess?  Is it time; money; knowledge?  What can you give away?  When you deny yourself you begin to serve the Living God, and in turn, in the coming kingdom, you will receive the blessings of eternal life.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to willingly endure pain and to give away our abundance; may we refuse our own desires and pleasures to fulfill Your purposes.  May we deny ourselves and take up the cross and follow You.  Reveal to us where we can be more selfless; where we can be more giving; and where we can be more loving.  We honor You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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