March 17, 2017

Numbers 6:22-24 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
” ‘ “The Lord bless you
and keep you;” ‘ ”

We have lost a great deal in abandoning the practice of speaking blessing to one another. Even many churches have gotten away from pronouncing a benediction and instead go with a closing prayer. Vestiges remain in such common greetings as “happy birthday” and “good morning,” but I think that even there we seldom have the consciousness that we are speaking blessing. I think we feel it is presumption to speak blessing, as though we were some “great holy one.” However, even in this very famous, priestly blessing, the true focus is not on the one speaking, but on God. I see no pride in expressing a desire that God bless someone. That used to be quite prevalent in Western cultures. Even “goodbye” originated as “God be with ye.” In contrast, the Japanese parting greeting means, “If that’s the case.” Translated, it sounds really strange in English! From a practical standpoint, it is an interesting phenomenon that consciously speaking blessing also blesses the speaker. I think the pressure to drop the practice comes from the devil, who wants to steal as much from us as he can. We are told to submit to God and resist the devil, (James 4:7) so the thing to do is to speak God’s blessings on people whenever and wherever there is opportunity.

This principle was brought out in a large meeting held by Yongi Cho of Korea in Fukuoka not long after we came to Omura, so I think it must have been in 1982. I don’t remember very much about the content of the meeting, but I distinctly remember being in a restaurant immediately afterward and choosing to speak blessing on a little girl of about three who was in the restaurant with her parents. I realized even then that this is part of being Christ’s representatives to the world around us. Even as a child I was in Royal Ambassadors, a Baptist organization for boys based on 2 Corinthians 5:20. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” Paul was very clear that the power, to bless or to do anything else, was in God and not in us. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) It was only with that awareness that he could make the statement that followed about being ambassadors. I think I am more aware of being Christ’s representative than many are, not only from my past experiences but because I am a pastor. However, I have sought in my ministry to help all believers grasp the reality that they are equally Christ’s agents. So few seem to grasp the concept! The simple act of speaking blessing may be the key to helping them understand that they can act for God.

Father, thank You for this reminder. You’ve already given me the message for Sunday! Show me when and how I am to share this. I feel frustrated to only be preaching every other Sunday now, because there is so much truth I want to share. However, insisting on preaching would deprive my assistant pastor of the opportunity, and that would not be good. Keep me from thinking or feeling that I’ve got a monopoly on Your truth! May Your Word go out as You intend, through whomever You choose to speak it, to accomplish that for which You send it, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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