When reading through the book of Galatians you are tempted to forget the audience to which Paul is speaking. If false doctrine is not your thing— his audience is not your crowd! To the church at Thessalonica, if confusion about the imminent return of Christ is not your thing— his audience is not your crowd! To the church at Corinth, if you do not understand carnality, sectarianism, or insubordination— Paul’s audience is not your crowd! But if you understand the human condition and know how it feels to be tempted and tried— you are Paul’s audience and the ignorant and carnal is your crowd. Paul calls them his brethren.
It is easy for us to pick up our copy of God’s inspired Words and condescendingly disassociate with the writer’s audience. We see conclusions in the middle of climactic scenes, and then blame the Bible character for acting the way that they did without the light that we now have. We scorn failures, while also giving little credit to over-comers, seeing that we often known the ends of their pursuits.
At the end of the day, the brethren are those who are born to the same Father. Doubting Thomas is my brother. Denying Peter and megalomaniacal James and John are brethren all. Demas, having loved the present world, is my brother. So, too, is Lot. Shockingly...a brother.
Ten times in the epistle to the Galatians Paul reminds the reader that through each trial of faith, he speaks to the brethren. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (6:1)
You are one of the brethren, and when one of your brothers falls, pick him up, for in our seasons of failure, we can only hope to reap from the brethren what we have sown into their lives through the spirit of meekness.
Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:9-10)
Man’s fiery member is a two-edged sword— it can bless or curse. It goes from “amen” to “Oh, man!”…. from ”Glory” to “Gory” in mere minutes! Oh, what a fire this little member kindleth!
Everything we say and do is an act of blessing or cursing. We have all been given the Baptist blessing! Have you ever said, “He just blessed me out!” If you are from the south or have ever visited, you, too, have been blessed. When either you cannot find your way, lose your keys, struggle with your children, or such like, you will inevitably hear, “Bless your heart!” That is not a real blessing— just a kinder form of cursing!
Words. So powerful.
They can crush a heart, or heal it.
They can shame a soul, or liberate it.
They can shatter dreams, or energize them.
They can construct connection, or invite it.
They can create defenses, or melt them.
We have to use words wisely!
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:21). Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24).
Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. (Proverbs 12:25).
When is the last time we purposefully blessed with our words?
The Apostle Paul was so intentional with his blessing that he transcribed private and personal prayers for his beloved Ephesians, saying in one sentence, Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23)
Blessing occurs when soul meets soul and heart meets heart. Blessings are words spoken from my soul, and they involve my deepest interest in my brother’s well-being. Blessing involves God, because when you hope for the good of another person, you realize that only God is capable of bringing that to pass. So we naturally say, "God bless you.” We are saying, “I am believing that God, who is the source of all blessing, will in these specific ways bless you!”
When thinking of blessing how can we not consider the Lord Jesus Christ? His birth was announced by angels who shouted, Peace on earth, good will toward men! His first sermon was a sermon about blessing. His kingdom is a jurisdiction of blessings!
At meal times He blessed them! Do you remember when the two Emmaus’ Road disciples figured out just who He was? It was when those nail-pierced hands took the bread, as was His custom, and blessed and break it in their sight? Oh, yes, He is a God of blessing!
Jesus tenderly blessed the little ones. The Lord Jesus Christ said, Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them. (Mark 10:15-16)
And, His final earthly act was to bless them! And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:50-51) Brother, He went out on a blessing, and He is coming back on a blessing! And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)
When is the last time we purposefully blessed with our words like the Lord Jesus did?
The classic passage of blessing is found in Numbers chapter six. After the copious rules of the Nazarite were given, God gave these words to Aaron.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:22-27) emphasis added
Notice three truths regarding this blessing:
the design of the blessing
The design of the blessing is God. It is God imparting to man what he himself cannot earn for himself! It was for His name’s sake (6:27)
Easily outlined into a trinity of truths, each truth speaks powerfully to the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the author of blessings and the preserver of our lives. The Son is the express image of the Father’s person, bestowing upon us grace and mercy. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, granting us illumination and peace. The blessing is all about God! No wonder James said, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
the deacons of the blessing
Who were the servants of this ministry? The text says, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons. The priests were responsible for this ministry! It was the responsibility of the representatives of God to speak a blessing to the people. Again, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)
It is the responsibility of the believer-priest to speak words of blessing! Our great High Priest walked among us, and He spoke grace! Of this union we have in Jesus, Paul says, Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (II Corinthians 3:6) We ought to be men of blessing!
the daily requirement of the blessing
Every day after the offering of the morning sacrifice in the Temple, the priest would bless the people. Every. Day. You could set your clock to it— every day, the national hopes and aspirations of the nation of Israel were perched upon the lips of one of the sons of Aaron. The Lord bless thee!
We live in a world under the curse of sin and death. Romans chapter eight declares that even the creation groans in birthing pains until now for the coming of the Redeemer. Dear preacher friend, some of your brethren feel the curse today. The searing pain of congregational loss or inward temptation curses him. The furtive and painful cry of prayers unanswered waft desperately from the lips of our parishioners. The moral failures of men and women lay like cursed dew upon each brow. The addict on the street corner, or the functioning addict on the church pew alike agree— the curse is upon us.
Yet, Jesus Christ God’s precious Son came to be a curse for us, and dying on the tree He took the curse away! As you go about your daily life, please consider the power of blessing!
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. (II Corinthians 13:12-14)
Daniel & Marie Cox are best friends, soulmates, and co-laborers in the ministry. They and their four children live in Florida, where they have established a church, a private, Christian school, and a fun-loving family!