Blessed to Bless
The Lord bless you, and keep you [protect you, sustain you, and guard you]; The Lord make His face shine upon you [with favor], And be gracious to you [surrounding you with lovingkindness]; The Lord lift up His countenance (face) upon you [with divine approval], And give you peace [a tranquil heart and life].’
Everybody loves to feel blessed. When God was in the process of transforming a nation of slaves into a culture of strength and joy, He gave Moses words of blessing to repeat over and over again for the people. They needed the blessing of God’s protection, presence, and kindness-just as we need His blessing today! To bless is to grant favor, and we trust God to give us His favor. We don’t just roll through our lives with no thought of God. Instead, we look to Him to give us wisdom in all we do, to guide us, and to give us success in our relationships and our work.
This prayer of blessing, though, doesn’t guarantee a worry-free life. God’s hand of protection keeps our countless calamities, but He allows enough difficulties to remind us that we need to trust Him. Problems show us again that God is faithful to provide for us. He is present every second of every day, and we can experience His peace because He understands our situation- even when we don’t. When we trust God this way, we shine light on everyone around us. As we experience God’s blessing, we bless others.
My business is not to remake myself, but make the absolute best of what God made.
Quite often we quote the above verses without really thinking about what they say. They open with the words, “The Lord bless you.” The word bless according to Webster means to invoke divine care for, to confer prosperity or happiness upon, to endow. James tells us in chapter 1, verse 17:
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes].”
Everything we have is in reality a gift from God who loves us and delights in blessing us. Take a moment and reflect on all the ways God has and God is blessing your life, your family, and those around you. Most of us will be amazed at all the blessings God has given us and yet Numbers uses the word bless in the present tense indicating that the blessings of God are continuous.
The second phrase “and keep you” reminds us that not only does God provide blessings but He also provides protection for both us and all He has blessed us with. For example, when God blesses us with children, He also provides protection for them. Whatever “good and perfect gift” we receive from God comes with the warranty of protection. When we know that God not only provides blessing but also protection, we can walk in peace and joy. We can do that because we trust God to provide our need according to His promise in Philippians 4:19: “But my God shall supply your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” We can trust His protection over what He has provided according to His promise in 2 Timothy 1:12:
“……for I know Him [and I am personally acquainted with Him] whom I have believed [with absolute trust and confidence in Him and in the truth of His deity], and I am persuaded [beyond any doubt] that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day [when I stand before Him].
2 Timothy 1:12
The third phrase “make His face shine upon you” tells us that we are never away from the presence and attention of God. There is no place, no battle, no struggle that we may face in which we are alone. God’s attention is upon us at all times. The song writer says, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches over you.” Those words come from a wonderful teaching of Jesus concerning the watchful care of God for us.
“Therefore I tell you, stop being worried or anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted) about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, as to what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow [seed] nor reap [the harvest] nor gather [the crops] into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth much more than they?”
The fourth phrase “and be gracious to you” tells us that God surrounds us with loving kindnesses. You will never be loved more by God than you are right now and you will also never be loved less. God’s love for every person is perfect and complete. His love is not fickle and does not change. He love sinner and saint alike. He doesn’t love anyone more or less than He loves each of us. We do not earn nor deserve such love for it is freely given to us by God at His pleasure. The word gracious according to Webster means: courteous, kind, pleasant, showing divine grace. I think this describes the character of God for He never forces us, He is never unkind toward us, He is never unpleasant around us and He continually gives us His grace.
The fourth phrase “the Lord lift up His countenance upon you” indicates the approval of God. Of all the goals we may set for ourselves, I believe the most important one is to have the approval of God. Many of us strive to have the approval of parents, children, bosses, co-workers, neighbors and the like. We work hard sometimes to earn their approval. Like the little child who brings their work of art to a parent hoping to receive approval, we too, desire approval from those we respect and honor. The approval of God is on an entirely different level altogether. We find His approval by living the life He has designed for us and His design is a life of blessing. Quite often to gain the approval of others we may have to sacrifice our values but never with God. Hear His words:
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little, I will put you in charge of many things; share in the joy of your master.’
The approval of God is given to those who are faithful in their service to Him. These walk in obedience to His directions and will. They are able only to be “faithful in a few things” but that is sufficient to win God’s approval.
The final blessing is the phrase “and give you peace.” Most of us do not have a constant indwelling peace. As a matter of fact most of us probably experience more anxiety and worry than we do peace, so we need to be given constantly the peace of God. Notice the words, “and give you peace.” The peace we have is always a gift from God and it usually comes in our time of need. What a powerful promise Christ has made to us concerning this gift of peace:
“Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.]”
You might say, “How then do I receive all this especially this gift of peace?” Paul give us simple instructions on how to walk in the fullness of the blessings of God:
“Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].”
Those of you who faithfully read these devotions may notice these verses show up frequently. The reason is that they are foundational principles that we need to get through this life.
Finally, the joy of every blessing is multiplex when shared. God doesn’t bless us so that we can selfishly enjoy and keep it all to ourselves. Every gift that God gives us is more than sufficient for our need. There is more than enough to share. David in Psalm 23 says, “My cup runneth over!” An if our cup is running over that means we have extra so it is no burden to share with others.
When Christ provided saving grace to us, He gave us more than enough and we have enough to share with those who have not yet receive His grace. When God gives us the gift of peace, we have sufficient to give to those around us. Every “good and perfect gift” we receive from God comes in a package large enough to provide for us and something to give to others. If you have been blessed by God, choose to be a blessing to others so that God may be glorified in a greater way.
Dr. John Thompson