Blessed… And So Become a Blessing
By Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, President
(Sermon delivered at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Davao City on October 26, 2014.)
May I invite you to prayer:
Lord, we thank you because you are only a prayer away. We come to listen so that we’ll know what to say. To experience your grace, so that we can give grace to others. And know your love, so that we can love. We come so that we’ll hear what you have to tell us. And we pray that what we say and hear shall be only what you want us to say and hear. We pray for strength to be subdued by your presence. And for humility to be proud of being yours. We pray not to prosper us but to prosper you, your justice, and your love. We pray in Christ’s Name, Amen.
“Blessed are …” says our text. Then Christ lists down who are blessed.
Many sermons have been preached on these verses. All no doubt have been great sermons because they are about a great and wonderful part of the Word of God. Most of the sermons focus on why being meek, or poor in spirit, or a peacemaker makes one blessed, and why being comforted, or inheriting the kingdom, or called a child of God, would be a blessing. They explain why one gets blessed and what are the blessings that one can expect.
Today, I invite you to meditate on blessing itself and on what happens when one is blessed. I invite you to reflect on blessing and what being blessed is, more than for the moment on who gets blessed and what blessings one can receive.
I invite you to meditate on three questions:
Let us think about each question one by one.
Our first question: What is to be blessed?
For many, being blessed is getting something. Something wanted. Something desired. Or, even if not expected, is wonderful to have or to happen to you. To most, fame and fortune and health and wealth would be blessings. Or a nice car, a promotion, a good spouse, the esteem and high regard of others. To be blessed is to have more than what others have, to be better than others, or to be ahead of most people.
This is the ordinary human view of blessing. But we must ask, what is God’s view of blessing? For this, let us turn to the Bible.
In our text are enumerated the qualities of the blessed. The meek. The poor in spirit. Those who mourn. The peacemakers. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Notice what is common among them?
These are people desperate to have God. People despairing for God’s presence. People yearning to see God moving among the lost, the last and the least.
The Bible says that they are blessed because they deeply desire God. They are not blessed because they are getting wealth, or health, or fortune.
The fact that they are searching for God, that they are desiring to see God, that they are intensely and desperately yearning for God’s presence – that they are clinging to a hope that God alone can satisfy – these make them blessed.
Being blessed is not about getting something. It is about becoming someone. Someone who seeks God, who hopes in God, and who clings on a faith that God alone saves.
To be blessed is to be a person who despairs to see God amidst a world of ungodliness and ugliness.
One can be in abject poverty. Mired in material misfortunes. Living in the most deprived and desperate of circumstances. Very sick. Or a failure in many things. Be in the ugliest of situations. But when God pulsates in your soul, when God becomes a living hope and presence in your life, when like Job you cling to God whatever your circumstance in want or plenty, when you are in a constant state of hungering and thirsting for God, my friend – brothers, sisters – you are blessed!
Power and prestige. Wealth and worth. These are not the blessings told us in Scripture.
Real blessing is when you are in God and God is in you.
You are blessed when you exude the distinctive aura of God in your life.
It is God in us, our constant yearning for God, our always pinning hope and salvation in God – these make us blessed. Nothing and not anything else.
Mother Teresa had nothing except the robes she wore. She was blessed. Paul abandoned all power and prestige that he once had. He was blessed. The thief in the cross was to die. He accepted Christ. And he was blessed.
Our second question: How long do we get blessed?
Getting something ends when you get it. When blessing is about getting something, our sense of being blessed drops soon after we get it. Then we begin to desire for something else, or something more. And the cycle begins – we pray to get blessed, or, meaning, to get that which we now desire.
Again, this is a very human way of understanding blessings. We desire something then feel blessed when we get what we want. We begin feeling unblessed when we don’t get the new things we want. To most of us, being blessed is when we get what we want and ends when we get them. Then it begins again. We desire other things and seek to be blessed anew by getting what new things we want.
But is this how God sees blessing? Again, let us turn to the Bible.
In the verses we read, we see the word “blessed” not as a past perfect tense. It did not happen once then ended after it happened. The phrase “blessed are” the meek, the peacemakers, the poor in spirit – is, to me, a past imperfect tense. It reveals a sense that having been blessed, you continue to be blessed. Once blessed, it goes on. Indeed so, because when blessing is the state of clinging to God, when it is about God in you, it remains a blessing – and continues to be your blessing – long after you recognize God in your life.
When blessing is about God, nothing on earth, or under earth, or cause or principality, can cut you off the love of God.
It does not end. It cannot end.
Finally, our third question: How do others get blessed because we’re blessed?
We often hear the phrase “let’s share our blessings.” Indeed, it is right to share blessings. But what is to share blessings? Ordinarily, we understand “sharing blessings” as about giving to others a portion of what good things we have.
But the message of Scripture is something else. Being blessed is to be in constant search for God, to be like the meek and poor in spirit, desperate for God to be present in their life. When blessing is understood this way, then to share blessings is nothing short of becoming an instrument for others to have God. To share blessings is to make others yearn for God. This is real blessing from others who are blessed. It is not about sharing something. It is about the “blesser” being someone – a person of God – so that others, too, become someone – a person of God.
Blessedness – and blessing others is about making others light up in their faces the presence of God because they have seen God alive and powerful in your life.
If in desperation or celebration others cling to God because they have seen you clinging to God, if in high or low, or when cheered or jeered, others begin reflecting the image of God’s love and justice and mercy in their lives because they have seen them reflected in your life, then your blessedness brings blessings to others.
Being a blessing to others happen when others become as blessed as you, when they show in how they live, a living God because they saw God in your life.
Friends, what more blessing can we give others than getting them to see God, to get them to hope that when they mourn, when their spirits sag, when they thirst and hunger for righteousness and for peace, they will always have God?
What more blessing than to make others see God being real in their own lives and then themselves becoming living images of God?
To sum it up, let me say this: We are blessed not when we have things. We are blessed when we become persons deeply dependent on God. We are blessed when we rely entirely on God – not on things.Our blessing does not end in time. It continues for as long as God is timeless. And when others get blessed, when they mirror the image of a just, loving and merciful God because they see the same image of God in our lives, we become truly blessings to others.
Then God is glorified.
Bessings to you all, Amen.