2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Paul sure knew how to give a benediction! Such prayers of blessing are scattered throughout his letters, and I don’t think there’s a bad one among them. They are expressions of faith that the God we serve is good and desires good for us, and that He chooses to act through us in extending His blessings. I think we tend to fall short in both those areas at times. Sadly, many people are not convinced that God is good and desires good for His creation. Jeremiah 29:11 rings hollow to them, if they know it at all. Of course, the devil is constantly trying to plant doubt as to God’s goodness, and he passes his own evil deeds off as those of God in order to “show us that God is bad.” On top of that, the idea of our being God’s direct agents is presented to us as hubris, overweening pride that deserves to be slapped down. However, the Bible is full of examples of God using people directly, and if we think about it, we’ve all experienced it from one side or another. Frankly, being used by God to bless others feels wonderful! I really think the greater blessing accrues to the one giving it! It’s just like Paul quoted Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) That said, we must not limit ourselves to spoken blessings. As James rightly pointed out, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16) He said that to illustrate empty protestations of faith, but it’s true in and of itself. We are always to stand ready to bless others, however God opens the door, knowing that our own blessing is even greater.
It was at a meeting led by Yongi Cho in Fukuoka about 40 years ago that I was turned on to the idea of speaking blessing to people. I haven’t been entirely consistent about it since then, but it is still a blessing to me to do it. I’m probably most consistent about it when writing birthday greetings on Facebook. It’s interesting to see whom the Lord has me do it for, and the specific blessings He has me use. The response is pretty universally good. It also feels good to be used in material blessing. Often I would like to do more, but I try to listen to the Lord and to my wife about how much to do. Lack of unity in giving can make for major conflict. However, it’s remarkable how often the Lord speaks the same amount to Cathy and to me, quite separately. Of course the greatest blessing I can give anyone is to draw them into a right relationship with their Creator, and I strive to do that at every opportunity. There are no limits to that blessing!
Father, thank You indeed for the privilege of being an agent of Your blessings. Help me indeed be available at all times, so that Your will may be done for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!