Thursday, March 26, 2020

What It Takes to Be Truly, Bountifully Blessed

Do you consider yourself blessed? If you think that you are, what does that mean to you – to be blessed?

The word “blessed” is bandied about quite a lot, and it seems to mean different things to different people. Usually it’s attached to good things, like a new job, a new house, a new car, having good health, marking important achievements. High school athletes receiving scholarship opportunities often post on social media stating they are “blessed” by XYZ University’s offer.

But is that what it means to be truly blessed – having good things happen to us? What about when things aren’t going particularly well? Does that mean we’re not blessed?

Recently I came across a poem that I thought offered a little bit different, refreshing look at this subject. The late William Arthur Ward, who was a writer and poet, is credited with this concise, but powerful description of what it means to be blessed:
“Blessed is the man…
For whom a good woman lives,
To whom his work is a pleasure,
By whom his friends are encouraged, 
With whom all are comfortable,
In whom a clear conscience abides, and
Through whom his children see God”

I don’t know about you, but I like his point of view. It doesn’t focus on “stuff,” but rather one’s character and the relationships we have, including with God. Ultimately, those are the things that will last; we might enjoy the material things we have, but as we’re often reminded, when our days on earth have come to an end, we can’t take them with us.

His perspective seems to echo what we find in the Scriptures, where we find hundreds of references to blessings and what God thinks about them.

One familiar passage tells us, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night…” (Psalm 1:1-2). It goes on, but basically we’re told it’s a blessing to concentrate on God and His teachings, and to avoid hanging out with people who can influence us in the wrong ways.

The subject of blessings recurs in the Psalms. For instance, we’re told, “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart” (Psalm 119:1-2). After describing people who pursue God as their “fortress, stronghold and deliverer,” David declared, “Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 144:15).

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus Christ opened His message by explaining what it means to be blessed in an eternal sense: 
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).

We could cite numerous other passages, but it’s clear that the Lord views being blessed very differently from the way we typically look at it. We live in a temporary, tangible world, but we are admonished to train our focus on forever.

As the apostle Paul explains, “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

So, let me ask again: Do you consider yourself blessed?

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