Why #blessed is Misleading



A friend posted this on Facebook this week:

I can't stand all that "I'm blessed" crap. Do they not know how selfish it sounds? Oh I'm so blessed I don't have cancer. Oh your mom died from it? Hmmm, she must not have been blessed. Whatever. I say keep that junk to yourself or at church. It's SO offensive to SO many.

I haven't been able to stop thinking about it...and I agree with her.  Are you "blessed" because your child is healthy and I am not because mine has seizures?  Am I "blessed" because I live in a nice house, drive an SUV and plenty of food; while God has withheld his blessing from those living in poverty?  That seems so contrary to the character of my good God!  So I've been studying what it means to actually be "blessed".

Oxford Dictionary defines "blessed" as "made holy; consecrated".   That's not at all how we usually hear the word used.  According to Oxford, "blessed" has nothing to do with health, wealth, friends or family.  And what does the Bible have to say?  The Beatitudes are the most often quoted scriptures on being "blessed".

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
- Matthew 5:3-10

Straight from the mouth of Jesus we see that it is not the healthy, wealthy and wise that are blessed.  It is the merciful, the pure in heart, the poor in spirit, those who mourn.  And do they receive bigger homes, job promotions, and physical healing?  No.  The blessings are spiritual in nature.  Comfort, righteousness, mercy, kinship with God.  These are the true blessings.  When compared with biblical and dictionary definitions, our propensity to translate the word "blessed" to mean "happy" or even "fortunate" just doesn't hold up.  God's economy is so very different from ours.  The earthly things we value are not what He holds dear.  His promise of divine reward is so much better than anything we could wish for on this fallen planet.

I wish I understood why some people are given more earthly treasures than others.  Ecclesiastes 11:5 says, "As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes everything."  I do know God has reasons for the things He allows, even if they are mysterious.  The Bible does tell us that God gives gifts to us so that we can be of service to others.  "You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."  2 Corinthians 9:11  Prosperity is a responsibility.  So whether your gifts are financial resources, talents or possessions, they are not to be hoarded or used for your own glory.  Inner peace and joy come to you when you use them for the edification of others.

If I could close by asking one thing of you, it would be to use caution when applying the word "blessed" - especially if what you really mean is "happy" or "advantaged".  When wielded incorrectly, "blessed" is confusing, misleading and very off-putting.