God said to Abraham, “And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Genesis 12:2-3
Abraham is one of my favorite people in the Bible. He’s also my favorite business mentor. His behavior and character always favored others above himself. (It’s as simple as doing the right thing by other consistently, without seeking recognition or applause.) Because of that, God and the community around Abraham blessed him in return. And because of that, his son Isaac, grandson Jacob, and many others lived blessed lives.
Abraham’s grandson Jacob was a deceptive manipulator, always looking out for himself. Even after his breakthrough encounter with God, he lived a troubled life of playing favorites with constant family feuds. But he still experienced some favor because of the life his grandfather Abraham lived.
Sometimes we enjoy good things because others are favored. Like my Grandpa, Jimmy Flaxman. I knew something about his rough Chicago past. But sometime in mid-life, he straightened up, lost around a hundred pounds and landed a good job selling life insurance for Metropolitan Life.
Grandpa Jim loved his work and his clients. When I was a little boy, he brought me with him to visit clients. I never felt like he was working; It always seemed like he was hanging out with friends. Because of that, he was beloved by many people and they showered him with many favors.
Grandpa Jim was very frugal. He always ate lunch at the YMCA cafeteria. When he filled the tank in his unadorned Ford Fairlane, he drove across town to get the free carwash. He thought owning a house was too expensive, so he rented a simple, but decent apartment in Albany Park, right down the street from where I played little league. So, I spent a lot of time with him and Grandma Irene.
Grandpa Jim always was winning awards for selling the most life insurance. Way back in the 50’s, he won free trips to places like Hawaii for Grandma Irene and himself.
He loved technology. He bought the first remote control TV, and one of the first cars with air conditioning and electric windows.
Unlike my dad and mom, Grandpa Jim always kept his promises.
His favor spilled over into our family. He loaned my parents money to buy a house. Once a month he took us out to a nice restaurant. He bought my dad a new car for his fortieth birthday. He set up college funds for each of his three grandchildren.
When I was in grammar school, Grandpa Jim took me every year to a clothing warehouse. He would buy me clothes I needed for the school year and the owner always greeted us warmly and gave us a special discount. After Grandpa Jim died, my mom took me back there. The owner wouldn’t sell to us and respectfully told my mom that was a special favor while Grandpa Jim was alive.
When Grandpa Jim died, he left a trust fund that supported my Grandma Irene. From the trust fund’s income, she was able to buy a condo in Miami and finish her life comfortably without ever having to work. There was extra money that went to my mom, who was able to use it to partly support our family while my dad bounced in and out of jobs, and immersed himself in drinking, women, and gambling.
God blesses or curses a family because of the father. Imperfect as he is, he’s blessed when he makes good character and behavior choices. Once the father is gone, the family could fall apart, except for the individuals who choose to pursue God and good character for themselves.
A good person who lives for others blesses many lives. The life you and I are living could be the result of someone else’s blessing. When that person is gone, our lives will fall apart. Let’s you and I make sure we’re the ones living good, selfless lives for others that blesses us and them.