Who doesn’t want to be a blessing? However, giving a “God-honoring” blessing involves much more than saying “bless you” when someone sneezes. It consists of the ability to “bless those who curse…”. Say what? Huh? Yeah, there is more to blessing others than condescendingly saying, “bless his poor little heart,” or even giving the obligatory salutation at the close a letter… “blessings to you!”
There is a much deeper meaning to “blessing” than first comes to mind, so stay with me as we dig into the deeper meaning of “blessing” someone.
Recently I was the recipient of my wife’s gracious expression of bringing “blessing” to my life. She spent hours preparing a “tabernacle” filled with remembrances from our life together, pictures and notes and even decorations with phrases that have been meaningful to us from movies that we enjoyed.
What can we learn from God’s word about giving a God-honoring blessing? First of all, Dallas Willard defines it as the “projecting of the desire for God’s good in the life of another.” A true blessing comes from the heart and is not a flippant, casual comment, but from someone who has put their entire being into the gesture for the benefit of another.
There is fear in doing this, because when we put everything into something, there is the fear of being rejected and rejection is scary for us human beings, so we shy away from wholehearted blessing. This is especially true when giving a blessing to an enemy, to those “who curse you…” Giving an authentic blessing to my enemy means that I genuinely want God’s benefits for the life of that person, and my fear of being rejected, my fear of having it thrown in my face will cause me to shrink back and avoid the whole crazy idea. Fear of rejection, fear of being transparent and being vulnerable before someone who can do us harm, is a powerful obstacle to overcome.
If I am going to be a blessing, I have to realize that it is not about what I want, or even what the other person wants, but it is all about what Jesus wants. Only God is capable of bringing ultimate blessing into the life of another person, so God must be involved in the blessing, which leads us to say, “God bless you,” not just “bless you.” It is a prayer that invokes the good of God on the life. We receive the blessing from God and choose to pass it on to the other person. We are told to bless and curse not, which means that we project good, not project evil (curse) on another person. A blessing comes through a heart of grace, rather than gritted teeth.
It is not something that should be hurried, said in passing. A genuine blessing is to be thoughtful and personal and there is a challenge in getting the other person to sit still long enough to receive it and to not be distracted by thinking that a blessing needs to be reciprocated. We need to be willing to just receive a blessing for what it is, an expression of grace.
Numbers 6 records instruction from Moses to Aaron on how to bless the people of Israel. This blessing is profound in its meaning and timeless as a model for the act of blessing people.
Numbers 6:24 “The Lord bless you…”
- That means desiring that God will bring good into someone’s life.
Number 6:24 “… and keep you.”
- That God would keep the person safe from harm. Consider looking the person in the eye and expressing your heart’s desire that they be blessed of God and kept safe by the protective power of God.
Numbers 6:25 “the Lord make his face to shine upon you…”
- Scripture is full of passages that speak of the glow of and the shining presence of God. This is the radiance of the face of God toward the person, like the picture of a grandparent that is looking upon a grandchild. This is the picture of the unveiled faces, where God’s glory is shining, as it is meant to shine as a reflection on the face of God’s people (2 Cor. 3:18). You are asking that God’s shining face would land on the person you are blessing.
Numbers 6:25 “…and be gracious to you;”
- Grace is God’s unmerited, undeserved favor, flowing to the individual.
Numbers 6:26 “the Lord lift up his countenance upon you…”
- When you enter a room, some people look up and smile at your presence, as their countenance is lifted up. This is in contrast to those people who look the other way when they see you coming. So this blessing is expressed as God seeing you coming and he looks right at you with joy, as He has been anticipating your arrival. This is a blessing on the person, asking for the manifest presence of God on their life. God is present everywhere certainly, but His presence is not being manifest everywhere as the Spirit of God can be quenched or grieved.
Numbers 6:26 “…and give you peace.”
- Peace comes in the presence of God, so having God’s face shining on the person, his manifest presence is on display and the grace of God is present, the end by-product is peace!
- Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
- This blessing is projecting God’s good on a life so that they experience the totality of God’s presence in the lives, as we pray the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come…” God is present in His kingdom, and there is blessing living in His kingdom and because He is King, there is peace!
There are many ways to bless people, but this is a model for us that is hard to improve upon, if we take its meaning to heart and express it as God intends, by the power of His enabling Spirit. Each phrase is deep and powerful and often emotionally penetrating when communicated in the right spirit.
Imagine a church where this kind of blessing is given and received as a way of life. Imagine the transformation that is possible in families and marriages and friendships, even to the point of enemies, who receive a blessing when they deserve a curse.
Now, practice this blessing by saying it with me… And memorize it… as a tool of blessing, as you consider who is most in need of God’s blessing today…
Numbers 6:24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
It is impossible to bless someone and harm them at the same time. Imagine having a reputation of being a “person of blessing.” It starts by making a choice to bless someone today… Will you ask God to use you today to bring blessing into the life of another?