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Magazine > Content

What Does “Blessing” Really Mean?

Unpacking this rich biblical word can help us realize the power of God’s intentions toward us.

By Winn Collier

 

Each Sunday, at the conclusion of our church’s worship, I stand before the people, extend my hands, and speak a blessing over them. If I were ever to stop being a pastor, this moment may be what I would miss most.

In biblical terms, to bless is to declare God’s truth into someone’s life and to announce God as the gracious, sovereign Lord who intends to flood His children with goodness and joy. When we pronounce a blessing, we serve as witness to the truth that God’s generosity and power have by no means been extinguished.

Regardless of the difficulties we face or the despair we know, God’s tenacious love will have the final word. Writing from the prison where he would eventually be executed by the Nazi regime, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew this firm hope: “Blessing means laying one’s hand on something and saying: Despite everything, you belong to God.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord speaks blessings that reflect the subversive reality of God’s kingdom. His beatitudes upend every assumption we have about whom we’d consider blessed and who we’d expect to enjoy the good life. Blessed are the poor in spirit, says Jesus. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek and the hungry (see Matthew 5). The people that we would believe to be at the bottom of the pile are the very ones Jesus says are blessed.

With these strange words, Jesus makes a prophetic announcement declaring who is included in the blessing of God’s kingdom. Again and again, He affirms that blessing comes to us not because of our ingenuity or effort but because God is kind and always working for our good. As theologian and ethicist Glen Stassen said in his book Kingdom Ethics, “Jesus [declares] good news to those who mourn, because God is gracious and God is acting to deliver us from our sorrows.” Blessing arrives because we have a God whose being exudes blessing.

Because we belong to the Lord who blesses, we live as a people who bless. In our corners of the world, we announce—and live as instruments of—His blessing. While it is true that a blessing serves as a witness to God’s generosity, in some mysterious way, it also enacts His generosity. As author Eugene Peterson once said in an interview, “Words make something; they don’t just say something.” Whenever we bless others in Jesus’ name, we join God’s healing and restoration. We participate in His intentions to bless the world.

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.


15 comments
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  • March 28, 2014 02:03 PM

    by

    Thanks, God bless you
  • January 28, 2014 12:12 PM

    by

    Thank you god for my blessings amen your love for us will fill our heart and soul with joy protect us from evil and wrong doing ..guide us which i know you have always been amen
  • May 30, 2013 09:18 PM

    by

    I always seem to forget who substains me while getting cought up in lifes upsured realities. Thank you for todays blessings
  • May 29, 2013 04:43 PM

    by

    Thank you for this message on blessings. To bless is to be blessed.
  • May 19, 2013 09:21 PM

    by

    I consider it a BLESSING everyday to know that GOD IS SOVEREIGN and IS in complete control of the world.
  • May 19, 2013 09:08 AM

    by

    Thank you and God bless.
  • May 18, 2013 12:09 AM

    by

    thank you Lord for letting me know you as my Lord and Savior. I also bless those people whou've hurt me intentionally and unintentionally.
  • May 17, 2013 11:56 PM

    by

    Thank you for not letting me not know you as my God.
  • May 17, 2013 12:05 AM

    by

    God I will bless all of my Children today, Thank You for Blessing me with their presence. I cannot understand some things but your ways are much higher than mine. God Bless all who live, let their hearts be towards you. Amen
  • May 15, 2013 09:51 AM

    by

    Excellent as always
  • May 13, 2013 11:45 PM

    by

    let us all thank's the Lord for His love to all of us,, may we give back all of His love by means of living in His will,, We thank you Lord for your love,life you'd given!!! Praise you Lord Jesus!!!
  • May 12, 2013 02:58 PM

    by

    awsome
  • May 09, 2013 03:22 PM

    by

    wonderful
  • May 09, 2013 01:23 AM

    by

    I never thought of how deep a blessing is to a person, both in terms of the person receiving and giving....
  • May 05, 2013 10:11 AM

    by

    BEAUTIFUL.

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