Are you sure you want to be blessed?
The word “blessed” has a lot of connotations in our culture. Most of the time when someone says they are blessed, it’s tied to some sort of tangible favor they’ve received. Being blessed is getting that job you were a finalist for, achieving financial gain or experiencing physical healing. New parents say they are blessed when a baby is born, and athletes consider themselves blessed when they win a championship or award.
If you ask 10 people if they want to be blessed by God, you would get 10 positive responses.
But could it be that what God says is blessed is completely different than our earthly understanding of what it means to be blessed? What if being blessed in God’s economy doesn’t mean life is going as well as you want?
In His very first public sermon, Jesus’ intro centers on flipping the idea of what it means to be blessed. Like today, the people of first-century Jerusalem linked blessing with earthly favor. So before He started His ministry, Jesus knew He had to set the record straight on who exactly was blessed. We have come to know this section of the Sermon on the Mount as the “beatitudes.”
- “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
- “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
- “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
- “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
- “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
- “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
- “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
- “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
- “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:3-11 ESV).
As you read through these nine verses, you see that who Jesus considers blessed are not the same people we would typically identify as blessed.
Those who are at the end of their emotional rope, people mourning at a funeral, those who are humble and not boastful, those who seek after God day after day and year after year — these are the kinds of people Jesus calls blessed.
The simplest definition of blessed I can think of is someone who has God’s presence and face turned toward them. The ancient Biblical benediction prayer, recited at the end of many religious services, reminds us that God’s blessing is tied to His presence with His people.
- “The Lord bless you and keep you.”
- “The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.”
- “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26 ESV).
As a child of God, created in His image, who God deemed worthy enough to send His Son to die on the cross for, you can be certain that God’s face shines upon you no matter your circumstance. So walk in confidence, child of God. You are blessed, not because of what you have or have done. You are blessed because of who He is and what He has done on your behalf.
— Reza Zadeh, Denver Broncos chaplain
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