The Blessed Life
In the 17th century the Dutch lived a blessed life. After they freed themselves from Spanish rule and occupation, the Dutch Republic catapulted themselves into wealth that is almost unparalleled in history. It was the Dutch who established our modern stock exchange, the first multinational corporation 1602, (The Dutch East India Company), and implemented technologies that fueled their production and growth. At the zenith of Dutch prosperity, they were unrivaled in trade, science, military and the arts. Their power and influence over the world happened so fast that the Dutch Golden Age is also referred to as the “Dutch Miracle.”
This painting is the Dutch’s version of our Instagram posts where we would highlight our “bougie” dinner, cute pet pics, our latest high price purchase, or even our Spotify list. This painting is a display of Dutch blessings and rich abundance. If you look closely you will find a “well groomed dog,” glassware and citrus imported from Italy, a monkey and a parrot from America, and more impressively (and the most expensive) silk from China, and plate and bowl from Japan! (The Dutch were the only Europeans trading with Japan at the time).
So, how did they do it? How were they so richly blessed beyond imagination in such a short period of time? And how can we apply their principles to our spiritual life? The key to their prosperity is that they positioned themselves to be blessed by breaking free from oppression, being disciplined with their time, not afraid to take risks, hardworking (ever heard of the protestant work ethic?) and faithful to their values and to each other.
It is clear from scripture that God wants to bless us, and from how I read the scriptures, it seems to me that he wants to bless us beyond anything we could imagine. To what degree and how fast God’s blessings come depends on how well we have positioned ourselves to receive God’s blessing. Many times we get caught up in the “financial blessings” of the prosperity movements, which at times can become very unbalanced. Blessings manifest in many forms, but primarily in these three: health (physical & emotional), relationships (family, friends & career), and financial & material blessings.
Positioning your body for blessing is important to God. God once healed me dramatically of high cholesterol/triglycerides. My new lab results freaked my doctor out and we had to have the awkward conversation that Jesus healed me… Since I was healed, I thought that Jesus was giving me a green light to eat pizza, drink beer and enjoy Ben and Jerry’s every night. He was not. … my high cholesterol/triglycerides soon returned, and God did not heal me a second time because my emotionally undisciplined lifestyle moved me out of being in position for blessing. We need to be disciplined like the Dutch.
Some of us need to be blessed with some good friends, with great connections at work, or even a spouse. Relationships are complicated because we are all a little weird and imperfect. Most of our dysfunctional relationships are the result of negativity in our own souls; anger, jealousy, control, insecurity, always needing to be right, etc. It is the selfish/self centeredness or pride that is the root of our relationship problems. We spend too much time looking at ourselves than we do looking at the community as a whole. The Dutch’s devotion to an accepting tolerant community gave them a strong home and country.
The last is the blessing that everyone wants. Wanting to be blessed financially is not bad, and I can spend a lot of time talking about poor motivations. So how do you position yourself for God to bless your finances? Well, first, it’s not your money, it's God’s money (ouch). The other two points also apply, you must be disciplined with your money and you can’t be selfish if you want God to bless you financially. Malachi 3:10 is a strange and unique passage on positioning yourself for blessing.
“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,” says the LORD of Hosts, “See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you blessing without measure.”
This is the only scripture in the entire Bible where God says it's ok to test him. And He says, the blessings come like a flood, from heaven, provision beyond our ability to measure.
I want all of us to be in this position, directly under heaven waiting for God to open the floodgates of blessings on our health, relationships and finances. I want to encourage you to find that position in your own life by being disciplined and hardworking, checking ourselves for negativity, and putting ALL of our faith and trust in God, even trusting Him with our money. Easier said than done, but I know you can do it with God’s help.