Sometimes your pastor may make it seem like only true believers deserve the blessings of God. And most often these “blessings” tend to be monetary or have some form of financial connotation a new car, a bigger house, a job promotion, a juicy contract, a government appointment, a creditor who died and so you went scot-free… etc.
But God doesn’t bless only Christians. If it were so, Dangote wouldn’t be the richest man in Africa. And there would also be no such thing as “Arab Money“.
But then again, God doesn’t bless only Christians and Muslims either, if not China and India won’t be as prosperous as they undoubtedly are. Most of them are Hindus, Buddhists or pagans as we like to call people who worship idols and smaller deities. Sometimes we refer to anyone who doesn’t share our faith as infidels.
So which group is most deserving of God’s blessings then?
E. No one
Have you chosen your answer yet? Come on, make up your mind already!
The right answer is E. You see most often God’s blessings are unmerited and most often we are always undeserving. But still He blesses us, because His ways are not our ways. That is what we know as Grace.
In the Bible scriptures we come across a man, Cyrus, that the prophets of old prophesied about 150 years before his birth and whom God blessed. Many years later, posterity still reveres and honors his noble actions. He is well-recognized for his achievements in human rights, politics, and military strategy as well as his influence in both Eastern and Western civilizations. He is also highly regarded because of his character and ethical rule even till date in the U.N charter.
King Cyrus was a most unusual king, during his reign he conquered several kingdoms and was known as the ruler of Persia, King of Media, King of Lydia and King of Babylon. He eventually became known as Cyrus the Great or King of the Corners of the World. His achievements far surpass that of Alexander the Great and Napoleon or any other ruler ever known.
What was most remarkable about this pagan king Cyrus, was that he was a leader of tremendous military ability and high moral and ethical values; he was not inclined to extreme brutality, cruelty, and the perpetual conquest for new territories as were many other conquerors. Cyrus was also extremely tolerant of the customs and the religions of the nations he conquered.
This pagan king is also important in Jewish history because it was under his rule that Jews were first allowed to return to Israel after 70 years of captivity.
In one of the most amazing prophecies of the Bible, Prophet Isaiah predicts Cyrus’ decree to free the Jews. One hundred fifty years before Cyrus lived, the prophet calls him by name and gives details of Cyrus’ benevolence to the Jews: “This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him . . . ‘I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me’” (Isaiah 45:1, 4). Evincing His sovereignty over all nations, God says of Cyrus, “He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please” (Isaiah 44:28).
And so he did.
It is quite possible that the Daniel during the first year of Cyrus rule over Babylon was instrumental in this stirring of Cyrus and shaping of his future reign. Daniel worked as an adviser to King Cyrus before the liberation of the Jews. He may have shown the king the prophecies of Jeremiah 25:8-13 and Jeremiah 29:10-14, which refer to the punishment of Babylon and the end of Israel’s exile.
And if he showed Cyrus such prophecies, he almost certainly would have included Isaiah 44:28-45:5, which mentions Cyrus by name some 150 years before he was born. This revelations by Daniel would have undoubtedly shaped King Cyrus sense of his self-identity. By affecting his self ideal (a vision of the person he sees himself becoming in the future) and self-image (how he presently views himself and thinks about himself).
What lessons can we learn here?
1. Regardless of your beliefs, nationality, status or education, God can use you to fulfill His own Divine purposes. The ultimate question is: Are you willing to be used by God?
So often we disqualify ourselves by our own negative self-talk. We discount our abilities, we look at ourselves like we are unworthy of such lofty aspirations and dreams.
2. Surround ourselves with the right people and destiny helpers and faith builders. The people you surround yourself with daily will sooner or later influence the person you become. As you will unconsciously strive to mirror their habits, thought pattern and behaviour. This mimicry will eventually form the basis of your own character. Cyrus had such a man as Daniel, see what he achieved! Who are you surrounded by?
3. We also fail to live by core values and principles that endears us to our fellow-men and creates harmony in our relationships. A simple solution will be to choose 5 values that you would want to be known by and write them down or put them in a place where you and everyone who comes in contact with you can see. That way they can also hold you accountable. Environment is stronger than will-power, so when you surround yourself with others who push you to live by your ideals, it makes it easier to stand by them.
4. Live and let live. Respect the principles, religion and traditions of others including those working under you. Never use quarrel, threaten or abuse the politics, religion or beliefs of others. That way you avoid turning allies into visceral enemies.