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.
My daughter Jenna sneezes in pairs.
Me: God bless you.
Me: God bless you.
I don’t think twice about my response either time. If you were to sneeze behind me at Kroger, I’d give you a “God bless you,” too. You’d do the same for me, yes?
Are we practicing a spiritual discipline when we say those words? Probably not, if we’re only offering “God bless you” out of cultural habit.
But can offering blessings be an exercise in spiritual discipline? Most definitely. Something as simple as a “God bless you” can be redeemed for His glory. If exercised intentionally, blessing others brings you closer to God as you partner with Him to spread the love of Jesus.
Yet let’s not limit our verbal blessings to sneezing fits when we have so much more to offer.
God offered the first blessings (and continues to go first! Ephesians 1:3) on Adam and Eve with, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22). He promised big blessings to Abraham as well as promised to make Abraham a blessing (Genesis 12:2-3).
Later we see Rebekah’s family blessing her (Genesis 24:60), Isaac blessing Jacob (Genesis 27:28-29), Jonathan blessing David (1 Samuel 20:13), and the psalmists routinely blessing God Himself (Psalm 103:1). From then to now, blessings are routinely offered in orthodox Jewish homes from parent to child.
In the Middle Ages, the simple “God bless you” phrase was to ward off the plague. Or to refill a supposed emptied body with good instead of evil spirits, having just sneezed out its soul.
But why and how should we bless others today?
1. To draw us nearer to the heart of God
When we consciously choose to speak God’s blessings into the lives of our friends, we press in closer to hear His heart so we’ll know what to offer. Listen to His blessings the apostles’ wrote:
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
1 Peter 1:2
“May the God of peace equip you with everything good to do his will.”
We can use theirs as well as create our own blessings based on truths we’ve learned from the Lord:
“May the love of the Father awaken you; may the presence of the Son enliven you; may the breath of the Spirit empower you, to hope in His grace and to follow His will today.”
2. To exercise our priestly duties
But who are we to offer God’s blessings? Most of us aren’t ordained ministers or official church officers. Are we qualified for this? Yes! We are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), uniquely positioned to remind others of the gifts prepared for them by our good Father (James 1:17).
We’re not called to spectate as others give blessings; we’re called to participate. To bless and be blessed (1 Peter 3:9).
3. To feed a world hungry for God
By deciding to bless others as a spiritual discipline, we become more aware of those around us needing our Savior’s sweet touch.
Who could use a blessing from you this week?
- A teacher: “May the Lord bless your work as you pour knowledge into the minds of children.”
- A friend traveling: “May your presence be light and salt in every city you enter.”
- A troubled sister: “May the Lord grow your peace by leaps and bounds and fill you with strength to endure every trial with hope.”
- Your child: “May you grow in wisdom and understanding to see God’s love for you through my love for you.”
- Your parents: “May you be richly replenished throughout your golden years for giving me life and teaching me to love the Lord.”
Say it. Pray it. Write it. Type it.
In person, in a card, in an email, over the phone. Just do it.
Friends don’t let friends live unblessed. Don’t let yours go until you bless them (Genesis 32:26).
May you be blessed by the Lord as you bless others through the Lord, with or without a sneeze for prompting.
When have you received a blessing from someone? Is there someone you can bless this week? Do you have a favorite scripture of blessing? We’d love to hear from you.
For more on how to give blessings, including and beyond the spoken word, I recommend The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley.