God desires to bless us. He also desires to bless more people. In talking about spiritual gifts and raptures of the soul, Teresa says God “would give them to us all if we loved Him as He loves us.” Her phrase, “if we loved Him” raises questions about the unconditional nature of God’s gifts. If we cannot earn these gifts, as Teresa often asserts, how does our love for Him have anything to do with receiving them?
There are many factors that influence our blessings. A few of these include human freedom, the freedom of other spiritual beings like angels or demons, our relationship with Him, our love, and our maturity.
- Freedom: God created us with freedom to love or not love Him. We also have the freedom to love or not love others. We have the freedom whether or not to receive God’s love or the love of others. Without freedom, love cannot exist. It only follows that participation in His blessings has individual freedom attached to it. God also gives freedom for other people, spiritual beings, and entities (e.g. governments, churches, businesses) to become agents for good and/or evil. Their choices also influence our blessings and our problems.
- Relationship: God desires to have more people in relationship with Him. He also desires those who have a relationship with Him to deepen this relationship. God doesn’t love people who choose a relationship with Him more than He loves others. But there is a relationship component that comes into play that includes relational gifts and blessings. These blessings can include internal gifts of joy, peace, and love. They may also include material gifts, answered prayer, revelation, and other mystical prayer experiences. God still loves and gives gifts to those who choose not to be in relationship with Him, but they will have limited participation in the blessings that typically come with that relationship. This is also true in human relationships. If I have tickets to a baseball game I will take family or friends instead of strangers. It has everything to do with an established relationship.
- Our Love: There is an interesting verse in the Bible: Jesus said, “They who have my commandments* and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Notice the conditional phrasing “those who love me will be loved by my Father”. Because of our love for Him, He will show us His love by revealing Himself to us. Jesus went on to say, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” We see love played out in a developing relationship with phrases like “reveal myself” and “make our home with them”.
- Maturity: As we develop our love for God and other people we’re in a better place receive His gifts with humility and express them to others with love. We know that some gifts given to the neglectful and immature can be counter-productive. The more mature we become, the more likely we are to receive them. But we don’t earn these gifts, we receive them because we have greater maturity to use them effectively and share them with others.
So back to our original question: Why doesn’t God bless me? God is not holding back His blessings at all. But there could be other barriers. These barriers may be self-imposed. They could also come from other sources. Whatever the obstacles, we have tools at our disposal that can remove or begin to break up these obstacles. These tools include love, humility, prayer, and perseverance.
* The “commandments” are summed up in “love one another”. Jesus’ commandments are not a rigid list of rules. If the commandment is not practiced in love we’ve missed the point of the commandment.