A few months ago, for the first time in my life, I have been teaching on “blessing”. And what a deep and mysterious thing it is! When we say, “Bless you” and sign letters, “Blessings”, when we pray that God would “bless” others…what do we mean?
At first blush, this theme can look trite simply because the word is so often used in quite a trivial or unthinking way. In reality it is a theme of immense importance because God wants to bless us, and have us bless others as a way of life. So it is very important we know what it means.
Basically blessing is God’s imparting of divine favour. And when one person blesses another it is a human act invoking divine favour along with the giving of pleasure, bringing happiness and even wishing success or prosperity upon them. It can also be used in expressing thanksgiving to God Himself. Thus the Psalmist can bless God when he sings His praises: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).
In his wonderful little volume The Life God Blesses, Gordon MacDonald writes (pp11-12): “God has been blessing lives since the great Beginning…and what it involves is so vast, so humbling, so unpredictable a topic. Yet such a real one…”
In this regard it is instructive to look at the promise and call of Abraham. Says Genesis 12:1-2: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.’” Here we see blessing coming in terms of enormous multiplication of people from one person, along with all the ingredients that go into the greatness of a nation. In Abraham’s case it would also include a great name and reputation. But here is something fascinating. All of this was so that Abraham himself would “be a blessing” to others. In fact, not only that, but the blessing would be massively extended so that “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him” (Genesis 18:18).
A channel of blessing
In other words the giving and receiving of blessing which comes to the believer is never meant to stop with the believer. The believer is God’s appointed and intentional channel so that the blessing would go on to others.
As to the contents of blessings, these are many and various. Thus, for example, some of these are automatic when we become true believers. For example, we receive forgiveness of sins, adoption as children into the family of God, so we can call Him “Abba”, Father (e.g. Galatians 4:4). We also receive the Holy Spirit, the gift of eternal life, the promise of guidance, adequate provision for our needs, peace with God, protection, fellowship in the family of God. And others. These blessings are actual. And awesome. And they are also automatic.
Others are more concrete. Please just look up the catalogue in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Please also note that they are conditional. They are promised to us if we “obey the voice of the Lord” (v 1,2,9 and 13). If we sincerely obey the Lord the list of both spiritual and concrete blessings available to us is endless. Another condition is that we “delight in the Law of the Lord” and meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). If we do this we will be “like a tree planted by streams of water” bringing forth fruit in season, with leaves that do not wither, and in all that we do we will prosper” (v 3).
All the above blessings come forth very particularly, says Gordon MacDonald, as we go “below the waterline” of life and begin to live out of the deepest depths of our soul. These spiritual depths in us will resonate as we go into the Beatitudes of Jesus in Matthew 5:1-11. Thus special blessings reach us, says Jesus, when we are poor in spirit, when we mourn, when we are meek (deeply obedient), when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, when we are merciful, when we are pure in heart, when we are peace makers and even when we are persecuted for righteousness sake.
Yet other deep blessings come our way when we tithe and are financially generous (Malachi 3:10). Blessings can even come to us when we “endure temptation” and fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12-14). Let it also be noted that we have an obligation to bless even “when reviled” or persecuted (1 Corinthians 4:12, Romans 12:14).
So may I end saying: “GOD BLESS YOU.” But now will you go out and bless someone else!