Commentary by Walter Albritton


November 25, 2007


God Blesses Us So We Can Share His Blessing with Others


Genesis 48:8-21


Key Verse: Israel said to Joseph, “I did not expect to see your face; and here God has let me see your children also.” – Genesis 48:11


Jacob began life as a taker. He wanted what belonged to others even if he had to steal it. His primary concern was himself. He lived up to his name (“Heel-grabber”) by grabbing whatever he wanted when he wanted it.

Fortunately God changed Jacob; even his name was changed to Israel. So when it came time to die, Jacob/Israel was no longer a taker; he was a giver. This should give us hope as we deal with people. We meet both kinds: takers and givers. But, thanks be to God, takers can be changed into givers. For that reason we should never give up on the takers who disappoint us. We can pray all the more earnestly for them to be transformed by the grace of God into givers.

As we conclude our study of the wonderful book of Genesis, we see a beautiful thing – the dying Jacob passing on to others the blessings of the God of his fathers. He had finally figured out the plan: God had blessed him so he could bless others. God is the great Giver and he gives his blessings to his children so they can become a blessing to their children.

Years before Jacob believed the lie his sons told him – that their brother Joseph had been killed by wild beasts. Though grief tormented Jacob, he never believed he would see his beloved son Joseph again.

Now he recognizes the kindness of God – at last he has seen the face of Joseph and the faces of his children as well. What a blessing God has bestowed upon the old man. So he gathers them in his arms and puts his hand upon their heads to bless them – Joseph as well as Joseph’s sons.

Jacob wants them to know what a mighty God he has served. The God of his fathers has been a shepherd and a redeemer to him. Jacob wants his family to love and serve this same God so that God can keep his promise to make them a great nation.

To share our faith with our children and grandchildren is to give them a precious gift. Children need to hear from the lips of their parents the several ways the parents have experienced the grace of God. My own father seldom spoke of his faith in God. He was a man of action not words. Yet I learned from his example that he trusted and loved God.

I sensed my father’s disappointment in me when I told him I believed God had called me into the ministry. He had worked hard all his life so that my siblings and I could go to college, a privilege that was never accorded him.

          Dad was a farmer. He wanted me to study agriculture at Auburn and help him make our farm more productive. My decision to enter the ministry ended his dream for me, though he never verbalized that feeling to me. Actually he said very little. But in saying nothing, he withheld his blessing from me. I realized years later that my slowness to embrace the ministry was influenced partly by my father’s refusal to give me his blessing.

          As the years passed Dad found ways to give me his approval but he was past 60 before he ever actually spoke the words, “I love you” and “I am proud of you.” I can testify that hearing those words spoken to me by the father I loved and admired was a powerful blessing to me.

          God blesses us so that we can bless others and we need to understand what great power words fitly spoken can have in the minds and hearts of our loved ones. Since we know not what a day may bring forth, we must not delay until “tomorrow” what we can do – and say – today that will bless those we love.

Professor William Muehl of Yale Divinity School tells a story that illustrates the difference words can make.  "One December afternoon a group of parents stood in the lobby of a nursery school, waiting to pick up their children after the last pre-Christmas session. As the youngsters ran from their lockers, each one carried in their hands the surprise, the brightly wrapped package on which the class had been working for weeks.

         "One small boy, trying to run, put on his coat and wave to his parents at the same time, slipped and fell. The surprise flew from his grasp and landed on the tile floor with an obvious ceramic crash. The child's first reaction was one of stunned silence. But then he began an inconsolable wail.  

        “His father, thinking to minimize the incident and comfort the boy, patted his head and murmured, 'Now that's all right. It really doesn't matter, son.  It doesn't matter at all.'
        "But the child's mother, somewhat wiser in such situations, dropped to her knees on the floor, swept the boy into her arms and said, 'Oh, but it does matter. It matters a great deal.' And she wept with her son."

This story teaches us that people need more than a pat on the head and a few words of reassurance. They need our blessing! Time and again God has helped us pick up the pieces and try again. We need to tell our children and grandchildren about those times when, “in the fell clutch of circumstances,” we experienced the kindness of God.

Like Jacob all of us have found life to be a struggle. It is never easy to lay hold of the peace and grace of God. One of the most quoted sentences of our time is that with which M. Scott Peck begins his book, The Road Less Traveled. Peck wrote, “Life is difficult.” All of us and Jacob as well, will agree.

Yet it is the difficulty of life that drives us to realize how much we need God’s blessings and the blessings of those dearest to us. Then, praise God, one day we realize that God truly wants to bless us – and already has blessed us in a thousand ways! And God waits patiently for us to choose to pass the blessings he has given us on to others.

What is most interesting about this scene of Jacob dying and giving his blessing to his family is that there is no mention of stocks and bonds or land and houses. Jacob was not concerned to give them things. What he gave them was more important than stuff; he gave them his faith and his blessing.

Does this story not move each of us to consider ways of giving our blessing to our children and grandchildren?

Perhaps, if we tend to be takers more than givers, we should ask the good Lord to change us like he changed Jacob. Then we can end up being a giver whose memory will be cherished by grateful family members. Blessings are like love – the more we give them away, the more we have.

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