An article caught AnOldSinner’s eye not long ago. The article questioned the use of the word blessed by Christians. In fact, the writer opined this was a word Christians should quit using. Of course, he did not simply give that opinion and end his piece in a few sentences. He explained what had happened to make him start down this line of thought, why he decided he had misused the word, and what he would use in the future.
The author stated he used the term blessed in response to a question from a friend. The author’s friend asked, “So, how’s work going?” Immediately the author, let’s call him Jerry1, had regrets about using the word.
Jerry questioned his use of the word blessed because he used it in response to a question about his business. When asked how he was doing, he responded automatically that he felt blessed.
Initially, this writer empathized with Jerry’s regret. Jerry felt the comment was flippant, and related to an inappropriate topic. The idea that he would feel blessed because business was good was uncomfortable to him. It was also uncomfortable because it was apparently in lieu of a more detailed or personal answer.
This writer is someone who bristles at what seems to be the commercialization of God. I am not talking about T-shirts sold at Christian concerts, camps, bookstores or even Christian themed merchandise sold at secular retail stores. Nor, am I talking about someone who is open about his or her faith when doing business with someone.
I am always looking for a legitimate opening in any conversation with a client or business contact to see if they are involved in a church or other place of worship. If they are, it may be a good way to build some sort of relationship with them. If they aren’t, I can invite them to my church.
However, this writer pays little attention to businesses which market themselves with quotes from Scripture and religious symbols. There are no crosses, signs of the fish, or more subtle hints that I am a Christian businessman in any marketing from this writer’s business personae.
For the reasons stated above, this writer initially found Jerry’s concern understandable. However, Jerry did not stop with the idea that one should not feel blessed about purely business dealings. He went on to question whether one should use the word blessed in any fashion.
This writer will be happy to agree that it seems some people use the word blessed more often than necessary. Some may even use it inappropriately. I am not certain the clerk at the local 7-Eleven® telling me to have a blessed day when I buy my morning Big Gulp® is necessary or appropriate. Nor am I certain the “Have a blessed day” I hear said through gritted teeth by some of my church friends is really heartfelt, considering their opinion of the person to whom they are speaking. That unfortunately, is not where Jerry was going with his piece.
Jerry progressed from his own chagrin over throwing the word blessed out unthinkingly to judging its use by others. His reasoning was familiar to this writer. It was the same reasoning used to justify the stifling of many other words people decide should not be used. Jerry felt blessed was a word at which some might take offense.
He did not just lay it out in the fashion it was above. He dressed it up by telling how his experiences in mission work made him sensitive to how little others in the world had. He continued by saying he had no idea why he was lucky enough to have been born in the United States, to obtain an education and to lead the life he leads. He decided his use of the word blessed was prideful and inappropriate. After all, he had no idea if he had truly been blessed.
Jerry believes the use of the word blessed by American Christians hurts the feelings of Christians in other countries. He felt that we would appear more humble and less arrogant if we simply quit using the word. He wound up his piece by saying he had started telling people he was grateful instead of blessed.
Grateful! My question would be grateful to whom and for what? Is he grateful to God for his circumstances, circumstances that some might see as blessings? Is he grateful he was not born into some third world country? Is he grateful he was raised in a country where one has, for the time being at least, some freedom of speech and freedom of religion?
One can play the self-deprecating guilt game over anything. One can be ashamed of having too much money. One can be ashamed of being born into a certain culture, class or ethnic group. One can be ashamed of having survived when others perished. Guilt comes in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Blessings come the same way.
One can be blessed by the sound of a new-born child waking on its first morning of life. One can be blessed by the beauty of a sunrise or the moon shining through the trees. One can be blessed in the United States, and one can be blessed in a third world country. If one feels blessed, why should one be ashamed of saying they feel that way?
It is almost a certainty that some of the people Jerry thinks might be offended feel blessed at times. They wake up some days to the sound of a new-born child or to a beautiful sunrise. Should they be ashamed because someone else may not feel blessed, or may not feel blessed as often.
Jerry’s position seems to be the opposite of an old saying many have forgotten. It is reportedly a Persian proverb, and says, I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet. Jerry seemed to rejoice at being blessed until struck by the thought that there were others who could not rejoice as often.
Someone somewhere is always better off or worse off than you or I at any moment. That fact does not make our complaint or our joy invalid. That fact should not necessarily make us feel guilty, and certainly not smug, about our circumstances. It is simply the life we have been given or allowed to live.
Jerry, the author, may have a reason to feel guilty about his use of the word blessed. His use of it may have been wrong for some reason. Still, claiming it is wrong because others are not as blessed is not a valid argument.
One of the most blessed men in the Bible was Job. Yet, he suffered greatly for a time. God gave him everything one could imagine, and then God allowed Satan to take everything. Job never lost faith, and was completely restored by God. Even during his trials Job knew he was blessed by God, and he never gave into the temptations to denounce God.
This was a long piece. Thank you for continuing to read to this point. To close, AnOldSinner offers the following.
If God is the being most believers think He is, everything that happens is either done by Him or allowed by Him. Therefore, there is a reason some are living the life of Job at its worst, and some are living the life of the author who prompted this piece. Either way, the person has a right to feel blessed and to express that fact. God is the only one who knows if they are being truthful, prideful or something else. He will be the One to judge them.
1.Obviously, his name is not Jerry. That is just a pseudonym to keep from having to use impersonal third party terms to speak of him. A pseudonym is needed because, it is not AnOldSinner’s wish to start a feud with another writer called to write about his faith. His comments simply triggered this essay.
© S. E. Jackson – 2014