Troublesome Topic: Our Use of the Term “Blessing”

Lesson 9 of 12

Our understanding of the blessings of God, and how we receive His blessings, is also impacted by a proper understanding of the covenant relationship God has established with mankind. If His blessings have already been pronounced, along with the conditions required to receive them, then our emphasis should be on following what God has established rather than continually asking for His blessing. (In my section on the New Covenant I will explain how our responsibilities compare to those under the Former Covenant.)

This concept was expressed most clearly by a friend and church leader during a time of prayer. He prayed, “Dear God, I do not ask that you bless our actions, but that we may act according to your blessings.” It seems that some believers are preoccupied with asking for God’s blessings on everything; they must not understand that He has already pronounced His blessings, we simply need to follow what He has prescribed. This was a powerful revelation to me—that we do not need to beg God to bless our choices and actions and hope that He decides to do so. He already has decided, the blessings have been pronounced; we simply need to live the way He wants us to live and trust Him for the results.

This does not mean that life for a believer will always be easy. The Bible is full of examples of godly men or women who suffered severely. If we have the idea that suffering and persecution are some terrible thing that should never befall a follower of God, we need to go back to studying our Bibles again. In America we have been lulled into believing that bad things should never come our way if we are on God’s side. That is not what the pronouncement of blessings was all about. The blessings God has pronounced do not promise an easy life.

Following God is its own reward. After all, being in an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe is privilege enough. Let’s not lose sight of that by always begging for a bigger salary or a more comfortable life. God does not seem to care about how comfortable anyone is when it comes to physical comfort. He will comfort us emotionally, mentally and spiritually, but physical comfort is not on His radar screen. However, He sometimes decides to shower us with many types of serendipities just because he loves to give graciously, but we should leave that up to Him without begging for them.

Often a “blessing” of material things can turn out to be a curse because it draws us away from God. We have convinced ourselves that the word “blessing” is tied closely to bank accounts, salaries or physical possessions. But these things do not always come directly from God as a reward for what wonderful people we are. The enemy knows how to use these things in our lives and will do so at every opportunity without us even knowing it.

Many believers in other parts of the world who have so very little of the things this world offers are far happier than their wealthy counterparts in America. They often know how to see the many little blessings in their lives. They show a sincere gratitude for anything that comes their way from God’s hand, whatever form it is in. It is a sad irony that those who seemingly have the most are often the ones fixated on getting more, and even superimposing that mentality on how they read the Bible. Indeed the rich of this world are often the poorest. (Most of us in America should be considered rich when we compare our way of life with other parts of the world. We do not want to think of ourselves as rich, and most of us will push that designation onto someone else, but we have more on average than others. Yet we should be careful because I just said that the rich are often the poorest.)

We see in Scripture a number of occasions where people are encouraged to bless others. The priests were encouraged to bless the people, and Jesus blessed the children. However, these blessings we see in Scripture were blessings of people, not of plans or actions. It is not wrong to bless someone, but we should keep in mind that a blessing is based in the character of God and the will of God, not on my desire for someone to be blessed.

A friend of mine who is an agnostic once heard me say “bless you” to someone who had sneezed. He quickly said, “You can’t bless anyone.” I had to agree with him, for I am incapable in myself of blessing anyone. I told myself that day to never shorten the phrase “God bless you,” to “bless you.”

If God’s blessings have already been pronounced, let’s wake up to the reality that they will not come any sooner to my life if I “confess” them. First of all, the Bible never uses the term “confess” in that way. Where in the Bible does it tell us to “confess” our economic solvency and it will come to us like a lost puppy running home? The idea is not biblical. Secondly, confessing God’s blessings is unnecessary, because God has already pronounced them, my saying something about them doesn’t change anything.

We should concern ourselves with getting as close to God as possible and leave the rest up to Him. If He deems necessary to try us and test us in order to help us grow, that is up to Him. After all, He is God, and we are the ones submitted to His covenant. I have the impression that, while we have most often prayed for, and wished for a comfy life, it is hardship that we actually need. We need to be very careful about how we view both blessings and challenges.

The next lesson in the Full and Medium Length Series on Covenants is: Signs of the Former Covenant.