THE BLESSED PERSON
V. C. George
Every one of us likes to be a blessed person. In our daily conversations and prayers, we often use the word 'bless.' We greet people saying, "The Lord bless you." We pray that the Lord may bless someone. We teach the children to pray and ask them to say, "Bless Mama, bless Dada," etc. What do we really mean by this? Is it that we want the person for whom we pray to be happy, prosperous, healthy, score good marks in the exam, be successful in the endeavours that he/she undertakes? Maybe, we mean all these and more?
The word 'blessed' is often used as an adjective for a person who has received blessings. Generally the word 'blessed' means prosperous, wealthy, successful, high achieving, having high position in the society and /or popular. In the Biblical context, the word has a different meaning altogether. It will be interesting to try to find out the meaning of this word from the Bible. Our Lord Jesus spoke of blessedness when He taught His disciples (Matt.5:3-11); He explained the state of blessedness. There have been many writings on blessedness based on the beatitudes.
From The Psalms
I like to focus on the Psalms and see what the Psalmist speaks about being a blessed person. From the passages in the Psalms, we can perceive four aspects of blessedness-repentance and forgiveness of sin, obeying the Word of God and discipline, character of the blessed person, and the relationship with others.
King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed Uriah, her husband. God sent Nathan, the prophet, to David to convey God's displeasure towards his act. David repented of his sin (2Sam.11,12). Psalm 51 is the expression of David's repentance. After he received forgiveness of sin, David declared, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (Psa.32). David describes the process he went through (vv.3-5). When he kept silent, his bones grew old through groaning all day long. Day and night God's hand was heavy upon him and he lost his vitality. But when he acknowledged his sin and uncovered his iniquity, he said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord." God forgave the iniquity of his sin.
We get separated from God because of our sin and fall short of the glory of God. But God justifies us freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom.3.23-24). Apostle John clearly describes our situation. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar" (1Jn.1:8-10). But the great comfort is that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Justification by faith has been the foundation of Protestant churches, first expounded by Paul through the epistles and later by Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin through their lives, writings, and interpretations. Entry into the blessedness of the kingdom of God is not by our merits, or by one's own action, but only by God's grace. It is in this connection that the verses of David become very relevant. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ. It becomes our greatest need to repent of our iniquities and accept this offer of forgiveness, which leads to the state of blessedness that King David talks about.
I am happy about many who have experienced the repentance, forgiveness and complete surrender to the Lord. I am grateful to the Lord for the opportunity that He gave me to acknowledge my sin and confess and also accept the salvation through Christ Jesus. If you have not done it in your life, I would encourage you to do it and enter into that blessedness.
Being Disciplined By The Lord
Obeying the Word of God and the Lord's disciplining is the second blessed state. Those who are redeemed by the faith in the atoning death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus go through a discipline based on the teaching of the Bible. We, as followers of Christ, are called to study the Word of God and obey His commands. "Blessed is the man You discipline, O Lord" (Psa.94:12). "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands" (Psa.112:1). "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 his heart" (Psa.119:1-2).
"Behold, happy (blessed) is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty" (Job 5:17) was the advice of Eliphas, the Temanite, to Job when he faced the most difficult time of his life. Correction (disciplining) from God is part of the purifying process. "Now no chastening (disciplining) seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it" (Heb.12:11).
In our walk with the Lord we are likely to face difficulties, tribulations and persecution, because we are Christians. This also is part of the disciplining. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, considered us as blessed when we go through difficult times for His sake. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven" (Matt. 5:11-12). Peter writes about the same. "If you are reproached (insulted or reviled) for the name of Christ, blessed are you" (1Pet.4:14).
There are many people who claim to be suffering, but for the wrong reasons. If one is suffering because of the consequence of one's action, he cannot attribute it as suffering for Christ. The suffering can be counted as persecution only when one is falsely accused because he stands for Christ, and not because of his wrongdoing.
It is difficult for most of us to understand the suffering aspect of Christian life. We can find many examples in our own generation of Christians, who opted to suffer for Jesus than gain relief, and are willing to go through persecution for His sake.
Character Of The Blessed Person
The character of the blessed person is reflected in the company he keeps. "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scorner" (Psa.1:1).
The Psalmist admonishes us to beware of being carried away by the ungodliness of the multitude around us. The character of a blessed person is described in the first two verses. He does not listen and act according to the counsel of the ungodly. He does not keep the company of the sinners. He does not fellowship with the scornful. The blessed man delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on it day and night.
The Christian character becomes relevant in our relationship with the world. We, in the world with all its infirmities, are asked to develop the character so that others can see the difference. It is easy to compromise with the standard of the world. Many of our friends may even recommend that we compromise and act in the way others do, diplomatically, rather than being rigid.
Bible is clear that we keep ourselves clear from the pattern of this world. We are called to be light and salt of the world. We are called to lead and not to be led by the worldly. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom.12:2). It will be a good exercise for every one of us to examine ourselves in the light of the character described in this Psalm. Whose counsel do we seek when we need help, whose company do we keep and with whom we fellowship? Can we take up our legitimate role of being the salt, and the light among the people who do not know the Lord and bring them to the knowledge of the living God?
Blessedness In Relationship With Others
We are blessed when we care for others. "Blessed is he who has regard for the poor" (Psa.41:1). "Blessed are they who maintain justice; who constantly do what is right" (Psa.106:3). Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount has emphasised our responsibility to others when He said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, and the peacemakers." We, as blessed people, have a responsibility to enable others also to be partakers of the blessing. Abraham was called to be a blessing for all the nations. "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). Every time God gave the promise of blessing to the descendants of Abraham, He included all the nations to be blessed through him. This promise of blessing is repeated four times in the book of Genesis itself (Gen.18 :8; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14).
Our life has to be a source of blessing to others. It does not matter what we do, where we work; it is imperative that we become a source of blessing to those who come into contact with us. Our work, our dealings, our communication and our transactions in everyday life has to be a source of blessing to others. There are so many examples before us. You may be able to identify someone who has guided you in deciding about your future, who counselled you during your difficulties, who stood by you when you were sad and grieving, who supported you when you felt everything was going wrong and you had no control on your own self. In our turn, we need to do the same so that we may be a blessing.
Let me narrate the story of one such person, who grew up in a very difficult condition, became blind at six weeks of age, lost father before she was one year, and mother had to find work as a maid to support the family. She was mostly raised by her Christian grandmother. She was sent to school for the first time when she was 15 years. Yet, she resolved that none of her difficulties stood in the way of being blessed. This is Fanny Crosby, born in 1820 and lived up to the ripe age of 95. She has written more than 8000 hymns and poems. She became the most famous person of her time in USA, yet she remained poor, continued her rescue mission in the ghettos of Manhattan, New York. She became a blessing, not only to her generation, but to us almost two centuries later. Several of her hymns continue to inspire, encourage, comfort and console people even today. Many of her popular hymns include Safe in the arms of Jesus, Pass me not, O gentle Saviour, Rescue the perishing, To God be the glory, I am Thine, O Lord, All the way my Saviour leads me, Jesus, keep me near the cross, Jesus is tenderly calling you home, and Blessed assurance.
I like to end with the story of this last hymn. Phoebe Knapp was a close friend of Crosby. She was a composer of repute and lived in the rich locality of Brooklin, New York. One day in 1873, when Crosby was her guest, Knapp was playing music that she had just composed. Knapp asked Crosby, "What does it say to you, Fanny?" Her reply was simple, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine." Then and there she wrote down the lyrics of this famous hymn. Since then the hymn has been a blessing for many and has been sung all over the world.
Fanny Crosby was never bitter about her blindness. Once a preacher sympathetically remarked, "I think it is a great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you." She replied quickly, "Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?" "Why?," asked the surprised clergyman. "Because, when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Saviour!"
What stops you from being a blessing? Cheer up and bring glory to God through the opportunities that He give to each one of us to be a blessing for others.