Count Each Others’ Blessings?

 
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
Johnson Oatman, 1897
 

Is it ever right to count other’s blessings?

 
I could barely keep silent as Shelly bemoaned her stay-at-home mom status—short nights and short showers, cluttered closets and laundry without end, amen. 
 

Blessings flooded my mind—her blessings. I thought of her hard-working husband and his well-paying job. I thought of her retired parents the next block over and her three adorable kids and the chance to stay at home with them. Blessings she didn’t seem to see. But I didn’t mention these.

Should I have?

Should we ever count each other’s blessings? 

Don’t sing songs to heavy hearts.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your moths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

I absolutely don’t mean this: I don’t mean telling a friend who just lost her Mom, at least you’ve got your sister. Or reminding a friend who lost his job at least you own your house. 

Those are not what I mean. That is pouring vinegar on soda, stealing someone’s coat on a cold day. That is singing songs to a heavy heart (Proverbs 25:20). Counting blessings over fresh wounds is mean. That’s not what I’m asking.

Sometimes words won’t come. That’s a good thing, because then is time to weep with those who weep. 

Count each other’s blessings?

But is there ever a time when it’s okay to look a friend in the face and tell her how good to her God’s been—to her?  Is it ever right to remind disgruntled friends how kind God’s been to them?

Winston Churchill said, Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. 

Call it courage, or wisdom from on high, to know when hold ’em and when to play those blessings down; to know the word that will sustain the weary, or if the weary are blind.

The hymn says, Count your blessings. We get that. We’re called to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. This is God’s revealed will for us. That we know for sure.

But what about counting for others?

Prime the thankful pump.

May the word of God dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…with thankfulness to God. Colossians 3:16

We all can get blind to the familiar: blind to blessings, blind to God’s grace. So when is it good of a friend—even incumbent on a friend—to remind us of our blessings?

The Apostle Paul often helped the saints count blessings they might not have seen. He prayed the eyes of Ephesian hearts would be enlightened so they would know their great hope, God’s power and the riches of his grace. Paul reminded Colossians how they were dead in trespasses and now made alive. He reminded the Romans they’d been set free from sin.

These are spiritual blessings, and blessings indeed.

Bless the Lord for other’s blessings.

But Scripture describes counting others’ physical blessings, too. As when, in the dark days of the judges, the former widow Ruth bore a son.

Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter in law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” (Ruth 4:14-16)

The women called out Ruth’s blessings.

It’s a do-unto-others sort of thing.

Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

Counting each other’s blessings can be a subset of Hebrews 3:13. Matthew Henry wrote on that verse,

 

We should be doing all the good we can to one another while we are together, which will be but a short and uncertain time. If Christians do not exhort one another daily, they will be in danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 

It’s a do-unto-others sort of thing. Because no one wants a hard heart.

 

Sanctification is a community project.

But sin is deceptive. Since grumbling is a sin (1 Corinthians 10:10), and since many of us find it easier to count problems and worries, it might be incumbent on friends to help us count our blessings. Because sanctification is a community project.

Timing and intent—I must be wary of my sinful, envious heart—are everything. Don’t sing songs to a freshly wounded heart. But if the Spirit leads, and you have a heart to help, count your sister’s blessings. Restore gently, testing your own heart for envy and pride. Then start counting. It might surprise her what the Lord has done.

As much as we might not want to hear it, ungrateful ,grumbly hearts might turn to hardened, sinful hearts. I know I don’t want a heart like that.

So, don’t hold back on me. If you catch me in a grumbly rut, start singing.

You have my permission: Please recount God’s blessings to me.

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 
Psalm 9:1