The third category of material blessings might seem ill-advised, since we know all of our possessions will ultimately come to nothing. However, God has placed us in a material world and given us the ability to fashion our resources in ways that meet our personal wants and needs.
Material blessings can be a stumbling block if they turn our hearts to greed, but they can be a source of great joy if we keep them in perspective.
When I was a young boy our family survived on a thin financial margin. We weren’t poor, but every purchase we made mattered, and there was no room for waste. One day after school I stopped by a friend’s house where his sisters were having a good-natured squabble over some silly subject. Suddenly the dispute escalated and one of the sisters grabbed a piece of lined school paper from a freshly opened pack. She wadded it up and threw it at the other sister. For the next few moments both sisters went through the entire stack of paper, littering the room with their make-shift projectiles. I was sick over the crime against frugality I had just witnessed.
This experience revealed to me, perhaps for the first time, how varied we are in the value we place on material blessings. What some people take for granted, others embrace with great enthusiasm. Appreciation is truly a matter of perspective. For example, the modern phenomenon of short-term mission trips has helped a new generation of Americans grasp the nature of our affluence. It is hard to complain about a five-minute wait in line at a grocery store after returning from a third-world country where children dig through trash piles for food.
There are a number of ways we can increase our gratitude for material blessings, but perhaps the best way is to share them with others. The more we give, the less we find we need, and the more fortunate we feel. Perhaps this is why Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)