I had never noticed that during the days of Creation, God did not bless anything until the fifth day. He liked what He’d done on the first four days and said they were good, but He did not bless anything. Blessings only came on each of the last three days.
5th God blessed them (birds & fish) saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number …
6th God blessed them (man) saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
7th God blessed the seventh day and made it holy
And on contemplating these blessing I noted that they seem to be a bit strange. He told (commanded!) the fish and birds, plus humans, to ‘be fruitful and multiply’. Why did He command them to do something that they were already equipped for and ready to do anyway? Why did He not command the vegetation and animals to be fruitful and multiply? It is obvious that they are doing that! Why did fish and birds and people need a supplementary command? And why is that called a blessing?
The word blessing means “to speak well of, or to call out the good.” ‘Calling out the good’ is deeper than simply saying something nice. It means to look deeper and see the created image of God in someone and to thank God because of it. BUT:
- sometimes we don’t see God’s image because we don’t look for it.
- sometimes we don’t see God’s image because we are too busy trying to make them into our image.
The goal of blessing is not just to enable people to see God’s image in themselves. We do it so they can move on to a fuller life in God’s strength and His power. This manner of speaking into another person changes their life.
There are two groupings of people who are at opposite ends of the ‘blessing’ spectrum. In Romans 12, Paul identifies them as Prophets and Servers, but they are described more fully elsewhere. Interestingly, one group is truth oriented. They talk a lot and are not people oriented. They easily and quickly discern bad from good. They’ve been given a special calling, ability and authority to empower others by seeing the good in them, and then giving them a blessing of dignity. Unfortunately, they are often bold and blunt loners who see a multitude of flaws instead, and do most of their speaking in attempting to correct people’s shortcomings.
The folks on the other end of the spectrum tend to see themselves as second rate. They are oriented toward serving but often consider their efforts as inferior. They want to provide quality service but too readily see the flaws and assume they don’t have much to offer. They crave to be understood, recognized and given dignity. Uniquely, God has created them to receive the blessing of dignity best from Prophets, more readily than from any others.
There is an important synergy between these two groups of people. Usually neither is aware of this. People between the two extremes see it and wonder why each has such a blind spot. Prophets have the authority and the ability to give dignity. They are enabled by God to be spokesmen to describe who others are. But too often they succumb to immaturity (carnality) and focus on sin and shortcomings. But when they see good and vocalize it, something happens in the spiritual realm. An unlocking of spiritual freedom takes place. This is why God vocally blessed the birds and fish and people. Prophets, created in God’s image, have a unique authority to establish a blessing that adds to people’s lives when they say: “I like __________. Please continue.” The blessing of dignity is given when they take the time to observe and identify the good, and initiate verbal commendations for it.
This is the essence of Hebrews 10:24: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together … but let us encourage one another.” (NIV) and Ephesians 4:29 is like it: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.”
Dignity can be commended in others in any of three tangible areas. (You can use the acronym TAP)
- Things – Encourage others by talking about the important things in their lives. (We all appreciate that people notice our ‘car’, ‘house’, ‘clothes’ etc, but ‘things’ are usually superficial.)
- Accomplishments – Encourage people by noting their accomplishments. (This is a deeper level of commendation.)
- Personality / Character Qualities – What people like to hear best about themselves are comments on qualities of character or personality traits. (This is the deepest level of blessing.)
It is usually difficult to recognize character qualities in people. Our culture doesn’t think about them. I’ve assembled a Character Qualities List (with definitions) that are practical and usable. Post a comment and encourage me by asking for it.
(original post Dec 7 2014)