Luke 1:58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
God’s blessings are to be shared in various ways, and one of those is simply to let others know about them. Sometimes we feel conflicted about that because others aren’t as blessed as we are, and the devil – and sometimes other people – try to lay guilt trips on us about it. However, the Bible is loaded with admonitions to give God glory, and talking about the good things He has done is a major way to do that. We do certainly need to be careful not to be boastful, but fear of being seen that way should not keep us from praising God for His grace and mercy. The biggest danger is in forgetting that it is all grace, thinking that we somehow deserve God’s blessings. That will get us into trouble faster than we can think about it. Elizabeth herself was thrilled when she became pregnant, but pregnancies aren’t guaranteed to end successfully, as many women can testify. In those days, childbirth itself was a leading cause of death in women, and even today we recognize that a first pregnancy/birth is increasingly risky after age 30, and Elizabeth was certainly past that. Under those circumstances the safe delivery of a healthy baby was reason for rejoicing indeed. When we share news of what God has done for us, it is good to understand all the things that could have been different, and praise Him for every step of the way.
I have a very checkered track record in this area. In the first place, too often I have felt like I indeed deserved God’s blessings, and that is a guaranteed way not to get the best out of them. Even with that out of the way, so many things are completely out of my control. I am reminded frequently of what a blessing it is that I was born to the parents and in the family that I was, but I certainly didn’t choose that, much less earn it. God showered me with abilities from birth, but again I didn’t choose them, and frankly haven’t been that good a steward of them. The situation is further complicated in Japan, where children are taught never to put themselves forward, and even parents rarely praise their children. Thankfully that is changing, but the expectation of that is still high. In parenting seminars I have to tell people to discipline firmly and praise sincerely, rejoicing in their children rather than seeing them as a burden. That seems to me that it should go without saying, but many people have to be taught, because that’s not how they were raised. I need to help people understand that whatever they accomplish, God helped them do it. I likewise must never forget that “Nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.” (Romans 7:18) Everything good is by God’s grace. I am to be grateful and rejoice, and give Him glory by allowing others to rejoice with me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. All the recent stuff about my father has really brought this home to me. I am incredibly blessed! May I be the steward that You want me to be of all that You have placed in my hands, in one way and another, so that Your purpose for each thing may be fulfilled, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Praise God!