You see things in our world today – especially on social media – like, “Won the round tonight! #blessed” or, “Thank God I’m blessed to live in America;” or someone will say, “Have a blessed day!” or (for the Southerners here), “Bless her heart!” We use this term blessed much the same as we use the word love: it has different meanings at different times. While I don’t think it’s bad or wrong to use this word, I think we need to make sure in using it that we don’t cheapen the word itself.
When you see this word blessed today, it always seems to go with some earthly prosperity. We rarely see someone including a blessed hashtag on a post that reads, “Got called out for my sin, which led to repentance,” or, “Got bucked off at the two-second mark,” or, “Had a bunch of cows going great until we hit a hole in the fence and now I have to spend the rest of my day getting them out of the neighbor’s pasture and fixing fence!” Even though I know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord (Rom. 8:28), I must confess that “I’m so blessed” isn’t the first thing to come to my mind when I’m trying to get stubborn cows up a wooded draw.
And in some cases, the person saying he is blessed when earthly prosperity does appear, doesn’t even know from whom the “blessing” is coming. He could be attributing it to the Christian God of the Bible or falsely to an unknown “higher power,” a god of another religion, or just the universe itself. Now you might wonder why God would give good gifts to people who don’t give him credit. If I trust God, shouldn’t I get blessings in the form of health, wealth, and prosperity? Well, to answer that question in short: no.
When you become a Christian, you come to realize that you are a sinner, an enemy of God who deserves nothing but His wrath (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23). This wrath is not limited to earthly death, but results in eternal damnation. However, God – in His goodness and mercy through Jesus Christ’s work on the cross (Rom. 3:24-26, Rom. 5) – gives you grace (something undeserved and which cannot be earned) in salvation. He opens your eyes to who He really is and enables you to trust Him as Lord and Savior.
Scripture tells us that God extends His grace on all people during their earthly lives by giving them life and livelihoods (Eccl. 9:1-2, Matt. 5:45). This is called common grace. While common grace is extended to all mankind, it is still dangerous to assume that someone who is always having a great time, is therefore “blessed” by God. In God’s gift of salvation, He gives eternal grace which far exceeds any temporal gifts He may give in this world. Now this is a blessing!
In the previous articles here, the Sermon on the Mount has been an important text, and it’s a good passage refer back to. In Matthew 5:3-12, I think it’s safe to say Christ is describing a believer as a recipient of blessing. Reading this list, the person doesn’t seem very “blessed” by our culture’s standards, does he? It’s because we have this “common grace = blessing” mindset. The world is all about the here and now, but that’s not how God operates. We focus on winning the next bull or bronc ride, getting that heel shot, utilizing that pasture to get a few more pounds on my calves come sale time, making the wisest decision about keeping or selling that extra hay. These are all good and right things to think about. The Bible is full of passages on being productive in whatever place God has us. Whether you win the round or miss your mark, the market jumps right before sale time or plummets; we need to remember God’s work in a believer’s life is on an eternal timetable. As a famous pastor put it, “being a Christian isn’t believing in God; it’s believing God.”
Regardless of all those variables the blessing of eternal grace is available to all who repent and believe in Christ, the only way of salvation.