What does it mean to be blessed? I believe we all want to be blessed. Even unbelievers would like or want that. However, the question for us (Christians) to ponder is: ‘what does it really mean to be blessed by God?’. Sadly, I believe many in our Christian circle/community have a misconception, or rather a skewed understanding, of what it means to be blessed by God. This misconception is in no small part due to the false teaching propagated by the prosperity gospel focusing on having a good life: healthy body, successful career, wealth, loving marriage, happy family etc. as evidence of blessings from God. Simply, I would say that many a times we will link being blessed with when things are going according to our (emphasis added) desires or wants.
There is no doubt that those things mentioned of a good life can be blessing from God. Yet it could be interesting for us to note that when we turn to Scripture, we will find that bible verses with reference to the word bless, blessing or blessed never connect blessing to material prosperity. Specifically, let us look at what our Lord Jesus Christ said/taught about being blessed.
A really good place to find this would be from what is known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12).
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
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. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The above specific passage is also known as the beatitudes. The word beatitude comes from the Latin word beatitudo, meaning “blessedness”. This is where Jesus Christ lay out the characteristics of Christians and states that we, as His followers, are divinely joyful and privileged when we possess these inward qualities. We are to be poor in spirit, to mourn, be meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, be merciful, pure in heart, be peacemakers, be persecuted for righteousness’ sake. On the last point, Jesus stated explicitly you are blessed when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on His account. All the characteristics as stated in the beatitudes were in Christ. We are blessed as we reflect those characteristics of Christ as His followers. The blessing we received is not in terms of worldly things or gratification and it may not be current or immediate. This blessing we have is found in the relationship we have in Christ and what he is doing in us even in the midst of suffering. We are satisfied in Christ.
In the current time and age, the hostility of the society in the world and here in Australia against Christianity is growing. The most recent happenings in the sports industry, in schools and legislations passed in our state of Victoria have made such antagonism very personal and near to each of us as Christians. The question of, “Will we be persecuted for our faith?” is becoming ever so real. Yet, will we also consider that we are blessed to be persecuted for our Lord Jesus Christ? In the midst of the challenges, let us not only reflect on Christ in how he handled persecution but let us also reflect Christ even more to others. As it grows darker, may we shine brighter. Evermore so, the world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ultimately, we are blessed because we are in Christ and Christ is in us. We are blessed because God is with us now and for all eternity. Let’s have that mindset as we face each day with confidence and in faith no matter what the circumstance(s) or even the outlook. And since we are truly blessed, may we consider to be a blessing to others as well.
In His Name,
Elder Samuel Lim