“You had better count your blessings,” is a retort often given to someone who is feeling sorry for themselves, or who have experienced some “bad luck.”
What’s usually meant is be thankful for what you have instead of what you don’t have. It is then that we are often reminded that we still have good health, a loving family, and a roof over our heads. Or anything else that we can physically or materially name.
But is that all there is?
For the Christian, there is more. Much more. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 1:3.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
This great chapter reminds us of our wonderful spiritual blessings.
(1) We are blessed because of God’s plan for our salvation.
God’s plan was in Christ. Not in man. Not in physical or material means. Thus, these blessings “pertain to the inner life rather than the material,” as Colly Caldwell pointed out in his fine commentary. “The blessings concern the soul, not the body.”
Yes, God gives every good gift that includes physical blessings, but the most important blessings are spiritual. Salvation from sin. Communion with God. Freedom from guilt. The privilege of prayer. The fellowship of His people. The hope of eternal life. And much more.
(2) God’s plan wasn’t an accident; it was predestinated.
It was according to His “eternal purpose” and by His “good pleasure.” He determined from “the foundation of the world” that those who would voluntarily commit to Christ would become a part of His Family. The Bible teaches that we’ve been adopted by God. We’re joint heirs of Christ.
When our son Kenny, was 5 yrs old, we adopted our daughter Rachél. We didn’t ask what she could do for us! It was what we could do for her. From the day we got her, she was ours. Our daughter. Our little girl. We never really even thought of there being any difference between them. She shared in the same privileges, as well as punishments. Her name is in our will and she will share equally with Kenny whatever we have left.
What a blessing to belong to God. Be in his family. And be a joint heir with Jesus.
(3) In Christ, God has pardoned our sins.
Paul uses the word “redemption.” It means to buy back. Or release from bondage. In Bible times it spoke to the ransom for freeing slaves or prisoners of war.
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1;7).
Sin stains the heart. Sin scars the conscience. Sin soils the soul. And sin separates us from God.
But pardon is possible because of God’s grace. It is undeserved. Unmerited. Unearned. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like Me!
(4) As a result, we enjoy a special power.
Not a superpower, but spiritual power. His power works toward us and in us who believe “according to the working of His mighty power.” The gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). But it doesn’t end when we arise from the waters of baptism.
Paul says that God “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). We are strengthened with his power (Col. 1:11). We have the power to overcome infirmities (2Cor 12:9). We possess the power to defeat the devil (Eph. 6:10-11).
So, in the words of the hymnist, Johnson Oatman, Jr.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman