Being blessed by God

Being Blessed by God.

Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are you”

One of the appeals of the beatitudes (so named from the Latin beatitude meaning blessedness) is that it describes those who are truly blessed. However, when we think of blessing, we often think of joy and happiness grounded in freedom from adverse circumstances. The Webster's dictionary describes the one who is blessed as the one who is enjoying happiness, one who experiences pleasure, contentment, and good fortune. But our English word does not fully account for the spiritual and theological nuance of the terms found in scripture.

In the scriptures, several words are translated as "Blessed." In the Old Testament, we find two words translated by the word blessed in English. The first word (bakar) is used 415 times in the Old Testament. The word itself means "to kneel." The picture is of one kneeling in the presence of another in covey submission and obedience. In this act of submission before a superior, the greater then provides a blessing to the lessor. Throughout the Old Testament, God is seen as the ultimate source of blessings to those who obey and submit to him. But the blessing of God is more than just emotional happiness and joy. At the heart of his blessing is the promise of his presence. In Numbers 6:24-26, verses often used as a benediction; the blessing is found in his divine presence, giving protection and peace. The genuinely blessed one is not the one who has freedom from adversity but the person who has God's protective presence in his life. This carries over to the other word that we find translated "blessing" (ʾǎš·rê) in the Old Testament. We often associate the words with the happy and joyful person because they are experiencing favorable circumstances in life. But the term used in the Old Testament serves to describe the one who a right relationship with God. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Ps. 33:12). Thus, the word focuses upon our spiritual condition rather than our physical condition.

The focus upon one's relationship with God is equally seen in the New Testament.The Greek term used in the New Testament (makarios) likewise refers to one who is experiencing God's divine favor. Because the focus is on our relationship with God rather than our circumstances, a person can be genuinely blessed even though they face trials and difficulties. Because we have the promise of God's future deliverance and blessings, we can meet the present situation with confidence, knowing that we are in right standing with him.

The second term used for blessing (eulogia) likewise focuses upon the benefits given to us that are grounded in our salvation. While his blessing may involve the present (Heb 6:7), the primary focus is upon the eternal and are supernatural (1 Pet. 3:9). These blessings are based upon our relationship with Christ. When we identify with Christ in our salvation, we are "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:3).

Understanding the biblical words for "blessing" points us to a state of existence grounded in and governed by our spiritual relationship with God rather than our emotional happiness or contentment. In the Bible, the one who is truly blessed is the one who enjoys a connection with God that sustains and governs our attitude regardless of the outward situation we face. We are blessed, not because life is good, but because God is good. If you do not seem to have a blessed life, or if your blessings seem temporary and short-lived, look for a lasting blessing that comes from a right relationship with the living Christ and then "count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."

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