One of Holy Week's Greatest Ironies
Thoughts on Conversion and Christian Formation, part 1

Receive those Words of Blessing, Don't Upstage Them!

Offering_Juan Estey_istock_sm Why do many Christians seem clueless when it comes to graciously accepting the spoken words of blessing from others?   I have encountered this over and over and over -- especially among evangelicals:  someone comes up to us and says "God bless you" or "May the Lord bless you" or "May God pour out His blessings on you this week" or any number of similarly configured blessings.  But instead of responding with "thanks" or "wow, thank you so much" or "I sure appreciate that" or "Amen. I receive that", we upstage their blessing with a clever "He does" or "He always does" or "He already has" or some such thing.  Whether or not such responses are intentional attempts at upstaging or posturing due to illusions of spiritual superiority, they're ignorant at best and arrogantly rude at worst.  

Maybe people's unwillingness to gratefully accept someone else's words of blessing probably stems from bad teaching, bad theology, or bad modeling --  somehow thinking that only God has the "right" to bless us.  If that's the case, then what about Jesus' imperative in Luke 6:28? Or Paul's echoing of this same injunction in Romans 12:14?  “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.”  And how about the truth regarding the blessing God's people, carried over from the Old Testament:

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the Israelites: You shall say to them, 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.
So they shall put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22-27 NRSV)

Now THAT'S some great theology!  When we invoke God's blessing upon others, we -- in a real sense -- put His name upon them.  God somehow honors this and then blesses them!  This is a powerful truth, and the words of blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 have not only endured through the ages but have been preserved in the worship liturgy of the Church. Since all believers in Christ are now priests unto the Lord (e.g. Revelation 5:10), it is we who now carry on this ancient faith-tradition of speaking blessing over others.   And when we are the recipients of such spoken words of blessing, let's consciously work at receiving them humbly, gratefully, and with grace -- guarding our words, our hearts, and our unity in the body of Christ.

May the Lord richly bless you!

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photo © Juan Estey, istockphoto.com

Comments

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It does seem that the usual response is almost of an errogant nature. I just receive the blessing with good intentions from the giver

Christians want to show that they are not lacking in faith or knowledge, therefore upstage blessings with an arrogant answer, one which will show they have faith (I know He will) or knowledge )He already has). Of course, rudeness seems to be running amok these days as well.

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