God is so good and he is good all the time! If you really believe this statement then you will be able to see in all things the blessings of God. I remember a magnet we had on our refrigerator for many years which had a little girls picture with a surprised face and the saying alongside said “Count my blessings, I can’t couth that high”. If God is truly good to us then that should be the response we each have to any situation. Even when things go poorly by human standards, if God is truly good then he is providing for us a blessing somewhere in the midst of our situation. To finish the story about that magnet, one day not too long after Rachel had discovered what the handle on the toilet was for we found that magnet stopping up the toilet. TRUST ME, my first response was not to think about blessings, however after I looked at that destroyed magnet and my daughter, I realized how to be content with a destroyed magnet in the light of a little explorer. As a parent I had to discipline her, but what I learned about her heart blessed me and helps me even now to know how to point her in a more godly direction. Her sin was not being curious, but taking what was not hers; so her punishment focused on helping guide her heart toward her need for a Savior.
I wonder if you have had such mixed blessings show up in your life. Though we do not expect them, and certainly no pray for them we all have such situations come into life. Sometimes we jump to action thinking of all the ways we can fix what is wrong, and miss altogether what God’s purpose is in these mixed blessings. Sometimes God’s purpose is very simply to get us to think differently about our situation, turning to a deeper trust in him. Our church has just such a time right now. We had an air unit go out upstairs. To replace it will be expensive, and we have as many expenses as we can handle right now. What are we to do? Do we cancel all of our plans for ministry to fund a replacement program? Do we just act like nothing is wrong? Do we act as if the air conditioning is the most important need that we have?
Turn with me to 1 Timothy 6:6 and read the passage there. Paul gives Timothy advice here on how to have great gain no matter what the circumstances are in life. What is Paul’s advice when we face mixed blessings? He tells us to first make sure we have godliness as a part of our life. So what is godliness? Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 3:16 as he relates a confession of the church. Godliness is Jesus Christ Son of God in the flesh victorious at the right hand of the Father. Most importantly to us godliness is having the proclamation and belief in that message as foremost in our efforts and mind. In other words godliness is having as our first priority the name and fame of the Lord Jesus. Paul also tells us that to see great gain we must have contentment. So what is contentment? Contentment as is later revealed in verses 7-10 is avoiding the snare of the love of money and what money can do for us. Perhaps we could say as an extension Contentment is being blessed with whatever God gives us, refusing to always be lured away from his blessings by material things. Paul seems to apply this same rule to his circumstances in Philippians 4:11 and even in 2 Cor. 12:10 we find the ultimate statement of contentment as Paul says that he is willing to suffer for the sake of Christ that when he was weak Christ is strong.
What does this mean for us in relation to an air conditioning unit or a budget crunch or any other such material need? I think Paul tells us that if we desire truly the greatest gain, we set our priority on the name and fame of the Lord Jesus, making sure to use what we are giving to fund the preaching, the leading of our music, the training of our children and youth, the evangelism and missionary work, and the support staff. Then when it comes to other material needs we become flexible, seek God for solutions, and let Him be strong in our weakness. The great gain Paul mentions is not material, but is the Lord himself showing his great love and provision in our moment of need. The truth is for a Christian we no longer have mixed blessings, no we have been overwhelming blessed with the Son of God.