Have you ever taken inventory of the blessings that we have in Christ? It would be a long list! Three of the items on your list would surely be: (1) the promise of Psalm 50:15 that if we call upon God in the day of trouble, he will deliver us, so that we might glorify him; (2) the promise in Romans 8:28 that God works all things together for our good—our misfortunes and even our mistakes—if we love him; and (3) the promise in Jeremiah 32:40, “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from following them to do them good.”
But such a list could never be completed, for according to Ephesians 3:8, the riches of Christ are so superabundant that they “cannot be traced out” (the fundamental sense of the word “unsearchable,” used in several English translations). Truly, the gift which God has given us through Christ is “unspeakable” (2 Corinthians 9:15). True enjoyment of such a surfeit of riches, however, means also having an urge to extend these blessings so others may also enjoy them. There is an unbreakable connection between the worth of the blessing someone enjoys and his desire to extend that blessing to others. Indeed, this is the very nature of grace.
For example, I do value what stamina I have to go hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains above Pasadena. But my abilities as a mountaineer are really quite minimal. Or, to say it another way, the Sierra Madre Mountain Rescue Team (a group of volunteers who carry on rescue operations) would be making a grave mistake to put me on their team.
The people on this team are highly skilled mountaineers. When we know the discipline and effort involved in attaining such skills, we can only have a sense of admiration for these people. And so it is only right for those who have these mountaineering skills also to find delight in them. But they can delight in them only as they put them to use and are able to overcome the peculiar challenge presented by each rescue operation. Therefore, it is no wonder that men and women with mountaineering skills are anxious to get on this team. The demand is so great; I have been told, that would-be volunteers have to remain on a waiting list for an average of five years before there is an opening. I have no desire to be on that team, however, for my skills as a mountaineer are way below the point where they would be of much use to people injured, stranded, or lost in the mountains. But if I were an accomplished mountaineer, I could understand very well how strong my urge would be to find full delight in that skill by seeing it put to use in rescue operations.
So there is this unbreakable connection between the worth of a blessing we enjoy and our desire to extend its benefits to others.
Now the multitude of blessings which we have in Christ are of ultimate worth. They answer the deepest needs of our hearts, and they give us a sure foundation for this life and for eternity that lies ahead. By delighting in these blessings, we fulfill that high obligation “to glorify God by enjoying him forever.” So if we have blessings which are really of such worth, we must have a corresponding urge to extend them beyond ourselves to others. These blessings are of far greater worth, and bring vastly greater benefit to people, than skills such as mountaineering used in rescue operations. So our desire as Christians to tell others of Christ, and to do everything we can to get the gospel out must be at least as great as that of those who covet a spot on a mountain rescue team.
If we are not concerned about getting the gospel out, then it can only mean that we do not value the promises of God in Christ very much. For to the extent that we delight in the blessing we enjoy, we will want to extend that blessing to others. But it is an awful thing to regard the “precious and very great promises” (2 Peter 1:4) of the gospel as something rather common and unexciting. In fact, it’s an act of high sacrilege. We are guilty of the greatest wrong when we discount the value of what is, in truth, of the greatest worth. To avoid such guilt we must find delight in the blessings of the gospel by banking our hope on what the God who cannot lie has promised. The enjoyment of such blessings will then produce a corresponding urge to share them so others can enjoy them. Like Peter and John, who could not but speak about what they had seen and heard (Acts 4:20), we will be under the necessity to witness for Christ to our friends when opportunities present themselves, and to do all we can to help get the gospel out.
But while this imperative necessity to disperse the glad tidings of Christ is a solemn duty, it is also the most joyous and liberating task in which we can be employed. “It is more blessed,” Jesus said, “to give than to receive.” As we see others come into great blessing as they respond to our communication, then we become more fully aware of the ultimate worth of these blessings. And only when we thus find full delight in God’s blessings do we know that freedom after which our souls crave.
Unless we graciously give ourselves to others (in this and other ways), we will experience nothing but a life of bondage. Life is a bondage when it consists of doing tasks which are not fulfilling in themselves but which we hope will someday bring us the satisfaction we crave. But life is freedom when we are working to extend our joy to other people and, most of all, sharing the glad tidings of Christ with them. Then we know freedom, because such efforts are themselves the fulfillment we crave.
Daniel P. Fuller