God bless you.
No I didn’t think I heard you sneeze.
It’s Thanksgiving week and I’ve been thinking a lot about how blessed I am and how grateful I am that God would lavish such attention on me. Yesterday I heard a wonderful sermon that reminded me that I am blessed to be a blessing and it started me thinking. What if at the Thanksgiving table this year, we each recounted not only a blessing we were grateful for but a blessing we have given?
As Jesus followers and God’s children, we have the ability and responsibility to bless others. It isn’t reserved for special people or for certain times—blessing another is for everyone all the time! I am fortunate to know a few exemplars in the practice of blessing. There’s the woman who tells everyone she meets, “Blessings on your day!” as she leaves their presence. Then there is the man who will often stop everything just to pray for and with you. The one whom I am most blessed by is my father. Every time I say goodbye to my father, he wraps me in his arms and says “God bless you” with such a raw authenticity that I feel his blessing surrounding me like a warm blanket. What he is doing is placing me in God’s hands until we meet again. Is there any better expression of concern and care than that?
What does this strange little word mean—bless? It’s one of those words we all say, but I’d be hard-pressed to define it if someone asked me. Bless mean to make holy (to set apart or to respect greatly). That’s why we bless things—to set them apart as God’s and treat those things with the respect that God’s personal property deserves. Bless also means to praise or honor as holy. That’s what it means in Psalm 103 when it says Bless the Lord, O my soul… (RSVP) It also means to ask divine care or protection for, to make successful or happy, or to provide for freely. God blesses others through our words, actions, and sacrifices. He acknowledges their existence and says to them, “You matter to me!” when we, in the name and power of Jesus, bless another person. That’s a lot of punch for a little five-letter word!
So this Thanksgiving week, give some thought not only to how blessed you are, but how much of a blessing you are. Most likely, you will realize that you are much more blessed than you have been a blessing. Don’t worry if the two lists are unequal in length because no one, absolutely no one, can out-bless our God. But it just might give you the incentive to be more intentional in your practice of blessing. I know that it is certainly motivating me.
God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!