thoughts on what it means to bless
not too long ago I heard a sermon by a man that got me thinking about the concept of being blessed, or more specifically – what the meaning of “bless” actually is. Why? I dunno actually – I think a statement was made at some point in the sermon about making room for blessings as if a blessing would take up a certain amount of space opposite a curse or evil… I know – I know – the sermon was actually good – but the real core meaning of bless is quite different from what we have come to think about it. So, let’s dive in shall we?
If you were to ask 10 people what the word bless means, most of them, if not all of them, would say something to the effect of prosper, enrich or succeed. Some might also mention praise or adore, but most folks that I know think of blessing as being akin to getting what you want. In the west unfortunately this has almost become a kind of materialistic mantra as in “I am so blessed I have this house / job / car / health / misc. stuff.” Now don’t get me wrong, having stuff is fine, succeeding is fine, having health and good things are reasons to be thankful, however they do not convey the essence of the word bless. Further, having stuff or being successful or prosperous most certainly does not mean we are approved by God.
Essentially to bless is to kneel. The Hebrew word is Barak. I would suggest the word bless is in the first instance to kneel, submit and serve. While a berakah is a gift brought on bended knee, I would like to focus on what I believe God would have us see in the true meaning of bless. When I kneel before God in humble submission – I receive the King Himself. I am one with the Almighty – who humbles Himself in acknowledging my obedience. The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Creator of the universe, Master of all, all knowing, all present, all powerful One, the great I AM, casts an eye on me a sinner saved by His grace and acknowledges my cry. He grants me His forgiveness, His peace, His joy, His Spirit. Essential to the true enjoyment of any “gift” is first rightness with Jesus Christ. True blessing only comes through this willingness to submit. When I submit and waive my right to myself…and choose Gods will first regardless of my wishes I am fulfilling my spiritual destiny and am blessed in the most basic sense… regardless of whether or not I have health, possessions, wealth or prosperity (in the eyes of the world).
Think about it, who was the most blessed human to ever exist? Exactly. Jesus Christ. OK – He was also God, but Jesus exemplified the ideal human life. How much stuff did He have? Right again. Not so much. Jesus knelt before God and submitted, renouncing all other opinions, all other desires, wishes and plans (including by the way, the devils suggestion for a short cut to being king). Jesus set his face like flint to honor God the Father regardless of His perceived success. What did it get Him? The disciples all abandoned Him, he was rejected, arrested, tortured and crucified. Oh – and he overcame death and sits at the right hand of God. Forsaking all through obedience – He acquired all, fulfilling Gods destiny for His only begotten Son.
We are so literal and materialistic in our concept of success and blessing. Some guy gets up on stage (and believe me there are some real bozos preaching falsehood) and says if we “A” then God will “B” as in give us stuff. How do you know? What do you really know? The only One who knows my destiny is God Himself. The only actual blessing possible is if I renounce my right to myself and seek Gods will regardless of the outcome. If it is prosperity and possessions drink the cup with thankfulness and celebration, if it is suffering and sorrow drink the cup in humility and patience. Only God Himself knows for what purpose and design He has constructed us. How ridiculous would it be if I took Gods message to Abraham in describing His plans to bless him and assumed that is what God does to people when He blesses them. He makes great nations out of them. Hence – if I am blessed by God I will become a great nation. Well, it seems silly but a lot of people draw strange conclusions from selected readings of scripture. I believe the message there is Abraham sought God above all else – and God honored Abraham with the fulfilling of his spiritual destiny (which happened to include becoming a great nation) even though he was a sinner and disobedient in various ways. Whatever you do, kneel before the Lord and seek Him and He will cause your path to be straight!
Finally – I want to mention in the new testament bless is more in the sense of praise and speak well of (eulogeo) and this too fits into the importance of first acknowledging God in the process and effort of being a walking blessing to anyone we meet. Pray for, intercede for, lift up, encourage, admonish whomever God brings in to our path, whether friend or enemy. In Matthew 5:44 and 5:45 we see the NT focus of blessing being on our enemies (as in doing good to them) – and then Jesus mentions that God allows many good things to happen to wicked and unrighteousness people. Did you catch that? God sends good things (sun, rain, abundance) on the unjust as well as the just. How many people do you know that take health, wealth and abundance as a sign of Gods approval? Exactly (uh oh). All of this fits into our first looking to God for guidance and wisdom in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. I don’t want to flog “posture” in kneeling, as some people literally cannot kneel. Those of us who can should and those who cannot – worship in humility however you can, God knows our hearts. I do believe posture does matter, even though I can worship anywhere at any time (btw did you know the Hebrew origin for worship means to “bow down”) :-)?
Anyway – that was my thinking on the biblical concept of “bless.” Less stuff and more submission. All the the things we want are only mirages of what we really want anyway – and that is just to be content.