Dear Grace Church Family and Friends,
“Blessings abound!” “Count your blessings!” “Be a blessing!” All these very true truisms come to life in the Psalms and the Gospels. Comparing and understanding two particular readings will help us catch a truth about blessings. May you be blessed in catching it.
Psalm 41, Matthew 5:1-10: Blessings Abound! Both Psalm 41 and Matthew 5 begin with a wonderful word: Blessed. The Gospel passage contains that amazing list of nine “Blessed are’s,” known better as the Beatitudes. (Beatitude, being yet another word meaning blessed!) It’s curious, and I don’t have an explanation for it, but while the New Testament abounds with beatitudes, the Old Testament, which is three times as large, contains a grand total of only 46 such sayings. Maybe this is yet another reason why we love the Psalms so much: of those 46 OT beatitudes, over half, 26, are found in the Psalms; And, this one falls right in line with Jesus’ way of thinking. Here it is:
“Happy are those who consider the poor;
The Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive;
They are called happy in the land.”
“Happy,” by the way, is yet another word for blessed. The Psalmist is saying here that those who look after the poor and the weak will be blessed, because God will deliver them in their own day of trouble. Why would God do that specifically for those who care for the poor and weak? Because God cares for the poor and weak. Such action in us is, therefore, Godly. The presumption is that if you and I care deeply about something that God cares so deeply about, it must be because God is active in our lives; that there is a “right” relationship between God and us. In the Old Testament happiness and blessing is not a fixed state of being. They happen as the result of a dynamic relationship with God. That dynamic constantly changes us and moves us ever deeper into the actions and choices in life that are in line with God’s desires for how life should be lived.
Jesus builds on this idea of a dynamic relationship with God, by turning the whole world’s idea of blessing upside down. While the world defines blessing by what we have, and by what we are able to do for ourselves, Jesus tells us in his list of blessings that the “Happy” are those who have not, and who “do” for others. It is the humble, the meek, the merciful, and the peacemakers, who have been so changed by the dynamic of hungering and thirsting for God’s “RIGHTiousness”, God’s desires, that they are the truly blessed. For Jesus, the ones who are truly blessed, are those who are themselves a blessing to others.
That’s the truth about blessings. Did you catch it? Bless someone else today, either near you or online, and you will!