God was teaching Judah in captivity what they had failed to learn in freedom. Israel was created by the promise of God, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:2). The nation liked being blessed; they didn’t much care, however, to be a blessing.
When I was hired for my first job, I thought the company existed so I could get a paycheck. My dad straightened me out. That company, he explained, exists to make a product and a profit. If they are good at what they do, they will take care of their employees. I was taught, when I go to work for a company, make the success of that company my goal. My own success will follow.
Jeremiah made it clear, Judah would be captive in Babylon for seventy years. His advise was my dad’s advise, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare’” (Jeremiah 29:7). Be a blessing first. Your blessings follow.
Father God, You made me to do Your work and will in the world. You gave humans mastery over creation, to subdue it and care for it, to populate it and enjoy it. We failed badly. We thought of ourselves first, and wanted the world to serve us, and this is how we have acted on our own ever since. It is how I act on my own.
Thank You for not leaving me on my own. You put my self-centered actions to death on the cross, and now You are working on the desires that remain. You are changing me from the inside out, teaching me grace and humility and compassion. I don’t make it easy, but thank You for persisting. Do what it takes, God, whatever it is. Make me a blessing to others, and a testimony to Your grace.