Benediction; March 20, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

There is a very great deal of very good content in this chapter (it’s almost all underlined in one color or another in my Bible) but I couldn’t resist writing on this bit. That’s because the Japanese translation I use has been set to music verbatim, and I can’t read it without the music running through my mind. That’s all the better because this is such a beautiful benediction. We tend to think of a benediction exclusively as something spoken by a minister at the end of a worship service, but the word itself simply means, speaking blessing, or even speaking good. That’s something every believer should be doing constantly, toward just about everyone they encounter! In Japanese churches they refer to the benediction at the end of a service as a “blessing prayer,” and most require ordination before they will allow anyone to give one. How unbiblical! There are indeed different offices and functions in the Church, as Paul discusses in Ephesians 4 and elsewhere, but nowhere does it say that anyone is restricted from speaking blessing on another person or people. On the contrary, we are told to build each other up, and what better way to do that than speaking blessing? One issue is that we mistake the source of the blessing, thinking the one doing the speaking has to have a “reservoir of goodness” from which to pour out blessing. How absurd! The source of all blessing is God; we are just channels. (James 1:17) Even Jesus, in talking with the Rich Young Ruler, said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good–except God alone.” (Luke 18:19) We have the joy and privilege of sharing God’s blessings with those around us, through word and deed.

I think I have known this for as long as I can remember, but I don’t always act on it. Maybe one reason for that is that I have also used words to tear people down, more times than I like to remember. That has sometimes been intentional, but more often accidental, and I regret it all. I realized early on that words are powerful things. After all, Genesis 1 says that God spoke the universe into existence, and John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Word of God, and He said to Isaiah that His Word never goes out from Him without accomplishing that for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11) Particularly when I have been given a gift for words, I need to use those words to bless and build up, whether they are spoken or written. I need to ask and allow the Holy Spirit to put a brake on my mouth so that I won’t say anything that isn’t of Him, but I’m not to hold back as a channel of blessing.

Father, thank You for this Word. Thank You for blessing people through me yesterday when I was at the hospital for a physical. That one lady really surprised me when she came over to speak to Cathy and me as she was leaving, saying that overhearing what I was saying to others really blessed her and made her think that I must be a pastor, bringing back memories from her childhood in Osaka. I pray that she would follow through and come to church, receiving the ultimate blessing of eternal life in Christ and passing that along to her family and friends, for the salvation of many. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

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