Defining Blessing

This journey we’ve taken together to explore some of the important words we use in our relationship with God has been a thoroughly satisfying adventure for me. We’ve looked at “sin” and “saint”, “repentance” and “redemption”. But I saved this word for the last…”bless, blessing, or blessed”.

When a word in scripture puzzles me I wrestle with it, thinking I must be missing some key idea in the meaning. Many times I find an idea or thought which brings life to a passage and “Blessing” is a perfect example. Here is a word that on the surface is defined as “Happy”. Seems simple, right? Well, I struggle for a couple reasons….

First if it really means “happy” why not translate it that way? If you do, Matthew 5 would have phrases like “happy are those that mourn…” and “happy are you when men insult and persecute you…” When we are saying a blessing for our meals, are we saying a “happy”?…When fathers speak a blessing over the life of their sons, are they saying a “happy”? It doesn’t make sense. I’m missing something in the idea, so let’s search to better understand the concept of blessing.

There are a couple words translated blessing in the New Testament. One is “Eulogeo” this is a compound word “Eu” – which means good and “Logeo” which means speak. So literally it means to “speak well of”. The idea is to give approval, or congratulations. It’s like a thumbs up or 5-star rating. Often approval from God shows up in good things, like gifts.

How differently some passages look with this word! When fathers are blessing their sons, they are speaking approval over their lives, saying “Congratulations! I’m proud of you, and here is why”. Or when we say the “blessing” over or meal, what we are really saying is “Lord, thank you for this food, and we ask that you approve of what we are eating”. (Maybe I’ll think twice about of french-fries and milk shakes!)

The second word translated blessing in the New Testament is “makarios” we find this word in the famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5. The literal translation is to “make large”, and the idea behind it is to be envied because God is pleased and extends His benefits.

Foundational to both of these Greek words is the idea of God’s approval. This adds an entirely different dimension to the phrases in the Sermon on the Mount.. They could look like this:

The poor in spirit have God’s approval,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

God approves of those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

God approves of the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Thumbs up to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

God approves of the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Envied are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Congratulations to the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

God approves of those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

You have God’s approval when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…

So where does “happy” come in? -Well,  I can think of no greater joy, than knowing my God is pleased with me. The result of His approval is my pleasure, joy, it’s a gift of happiness…blessing!


See all of the definitions we explored during this series by clicking HERE

Defining Redemption

In my opinion, the word that captures my relationship with God better than any other I know is “redemption”. I love the words to that old camp song:

I’ve been redeemed – I’ve been redeemed
By the blood of the lamb -By the blood of the lamb
I’ve been redeemed- I’ve been redeemed
By the blood of the lamb-By the blood of the lamb
I’ve been redeemed by the blood of the lamb, filled with the Holy Spirit I am
All my sins are washed away, I’ve been redeemed

But, what exactly does it mean to be redeemed?

The Greek word “lutroo” is commonly translated redemption, and means gaining release by the paying of a ransom. In ancient Greece, during war-time, men of importance held hostage as slaves until a bounty was raised, and paid to the victor to redeem them from bondage.

That is exactly a picture of our lives, right? We are held hostage by our poor choices and the sin in our lives. Then Jesus steps in and pays the ransom for our freedom. Peter says it like this:

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. ” I Peter 1:18-19

Here is a little exercise you can try with your kids or grandkids to help them better understand redemption. I suggest you use it with older children. Choose something of great value to the child in your life, perhaps their favorite stuffed animal, or maybe a video game, or even (gasp) their phone. Take it and hold it hostage. Set the redemption price high. Make it money, or chores, whatever is appropriate for your child. Don’t return the item until the ransom is paid, then have a discussion using some of these questions:

  • How did you feel when your important item was taken away?
  • How do you think God feels when sin takes you away from Him?
  • How high of a price would you be willing to pay?
  • Read I Peter 1:18-19 together.
  • What does that tell us about the value God puts on YOU?

Watch this little video “Twice Owned” it brings a picture of redemption in an old story to life.


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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Defining Righteousness

In Washington DC, is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is responsible for storing the perfect samples for weights and measures. There you will find the prototypes used to define feet, and measure pounds, liters and meters. Measurement is so precise that they use a bar of Platinum with exactly 10% iridium, cooled to 0 degrees Celsius at sea level in the 45 degree of latitude, to calculate the length of a meter. This is the standard.

The root of the word righteousness is to be straight – or to act like the standard – live up to the standard.

What is the standard? –

 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”Romans 8:29

Our standard is Jesus. To be like Him is our goal.

So the measure of your righteousness, is how close you mirror the Savior. If you are like me, that is not very close at all. Still, there is hope because

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

The Chinese character for “righteousness” is fascinating. It’s composed of two separate characters one that by itself means” a lamb”, the other for “me”. When “lamb” is placed directly above “me,” a new character “righteousness” is formed. So when the Lamb covers me…I become righteous.


Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™