We talk about blessing, we pray for blessing, we read about blessings in the Bible, but have we ever stopped and asked – what does it really mean? You can go on any form of social media you choose and find the tag #blessed. Christians and non-Christians alike will call almost any life event a blessing. I’ve seen #blessed on some of the most ridiculous things have I have been researching for this. Things like 6 pack abs #blessed, a new car with a camo paint job #blessed, a video of a birthday party at a bar #blessed, three new Louis Vuitton wallets #blessed. Are we blessed when life is fun? Are we blessed when things in our life are going well? Is a blessing having all we need and most of what we want? Is it God’s favor in our lives that the blessing? Prosperity, like health, wealth and everything else? I don’t think any of these things are specifically excluded as blessings but if we think these things are in and of themselves the blessing we may be missing the point. One thing we can probably agree on is that blessings are a good thing, and we want as much of it as possible. But when we try to give a clear definition of a blessing, suddenly it doesn’t seem as clear. We talk about a blessing all the time as believers but is it possible that we don’t really know exactly what we’re talking about or asking for?
I. How do we define a blessing and is our definition of blessing the same Gods?
The first mention of a blessing in the Bible is in the very first chapter on Genesis and begins to paint a picture of what a blessing really is, God says this after he created the great sea monsters and all the swarms of living creatures teeming in the sea and every winged bird above the earth.
Genesis 1:22 NASB God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the sea, and let birds multiply on earth.”
So, this verse fits in with the idea of prosperity, with being fruitful and multiplying of the animals. And the fact that God’s first blessing mentioned in the Bible wasn’t even to humans, it was to the sea creatures and birds, speaks to the point that blessings aren’t unique to or designed for mankind only.
The next mention of a blessing is just a few verses later.
Genesis 1:28 NASB God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.
This is interesting, God first blesses the birds and sea creatures to be fruitful and multiply and then 6 verses later blesses Adam and Eve in a different, greater way. This blessing includes the same elements of prosperity the animals received but also the permission and authority to subdue and rule over the animals. This indicates that even though the animals were blessed, they aren’t intended to have God’s ultimate favor or an easy life of dominion or dominance.
The next blessing is mention in the next chapter of Genesis right at the end of the creation process as God was finishing His work.
Genesis 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Ok, first the animals get a blessing, then mankind, and now a day? This blessing also breaks the pattern of blessings being about multiplying and bearing fruit – what does it mean that God blesses the Sabbath? He blesses it and makes it holy, as He is holy, He sets it aside as a day of rest.
DEFINITION OF BLESSING
Essentially, blessing is God giving power to something or someone to do that which they are designed or intended to do. The creatures were supposed to fill the earth and multiply, so God gave them His blessing, or power, to do it. Mankind were also supposed to multiply and tend to the rest of creation. And God gave them power to do that too. When it comes to the Sabbath, God infuses it with His power to be all it was designed to be, a holy day of rest, connected to God. Blessing is God granting the power to do what He intends us to do.
II. Blessing God and Blessing others
When we bless God (Psalms 103), we are recognizing Him as the rightful and only source of all blessing and good things. By His power in us, we have the power to do and be all He intends us to be. Apart from that power at work within us, we are weak, easily swayed and tossed and influenced by things not of God. It’s a big step in the building and fortifying of our faith when we recognize we aren’t going to be what we are meant to be on our own. In fact, as we bless God, we are offering a special type of humility and worship to Him. In the passage below David is blessing the Lord and notice how he seems to connect blessing the Lord and fear of the Lord.
My soul, bless the Lord, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits. He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; he crowns you with faithful love and compassion. He satisfies you with good things; your youth is renewed like the eagle. The Lord executes acts of righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He revealed his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love. He will not always accuse us or be angry forever. He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his faithful love toward those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. For he knows what we are made of, remembering that we are dust. But from eternity to eternity the Lord ’s faithful love is toward those who fear him, and his righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep his covenant, who remember to observe his precepts. Bless the Lord, all his angels of great strength, who do his word, obedient to his command. Bless the Lord, all his armies, his servants who do his will. Bless the Lord, all his works in all the places where he rules. My soul, bless the Lord! The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. As for man, his days are like grass — he blooms like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known.
It feels like David is saying, my true fear of the Lord has led me to want to bless Him with all that I am. The Bible says fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It seems like fear of the Lord may also be the beginning of worship.
When it comes to blessing others, if we do it in the name of God to a fellow believer, we are in effect praying that God would send His blessing to them. When we bless we are asking God to bless someone to be successful in Gods good will and intentions for them. It’s also an acknowledgement that they or we, can’t do it without His power. However, if we are praying or asking for a blessing for an unbeliever we may be, in a way, tossing our pearls before the swine. Not that God doesn’t have a desire to bring all unbelievers to Himself through Christ Jesus. But to ask God to bless an unbeliever puts the wagon in front of the horse. The Bible does indicate that unbelievers do receive a measure of Gods goodness (Psalm 145:9, Matthew 5:45, Acts 14:17) but they aren’t open to receive the full blessing of God, to receive power in accomplishing their God ordain purposes.
As we receive and give blessings in this life, let us always remember the source and the purpose. Feel good, being comfortable, or getting rich is rarely the point. Also, let us not hoard our blessing. We must always acknowledge and bless God, remember to obey His commands and be a blessing to others. We are blessed to be a blessing, we have been granted Gods power to build up the weak as His power enables us.