Echoing the priestly blessing Aaron spoke over the Israelites back in the day, Psalm 67 opens with these words:
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us…
They are encouraging words of grace and blessing. But this morning when I read this psalm, the words that followed really struck me:
Now, if I had finished the original sentence, I might have written something like: “…so that I can have a good day.” Or “…so that I can experience health, wealth, and happiness.” Or “…so that I’ll always have plenty of ice cream in the freezer.” The Spirit-inspired psalmist, however, goes in a very different direction:
…so that your [God’s] ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
In other words, God blesses you and me so that we can be blessing to him in return and so that we can bless others. It goes way back to God’s call to Abraham where God says:
I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing…
And all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.
You and I are blessed to be a blessing. Yes, we certainly benefit from God’s blessings, but that’s not the final purpose of being blessed. God means for his blessings to flow not only into us but through us so that others can be touched by God’s grace just as we have been. In fact, I’d argue from Scripture (Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians comes quickly to mind) and from experience that God wants to bless us with far more than we could possibly keep to ourselves anyway!
This reminds me of something J.R. Briggs prays:
God, we would be pipes,
In your grace and mercy,
you have poured so much into us.
We don’t want to keep
this grace and mercy to ourselves.
We want to pour it out into others.
The Holy Spirit inspires me to say “Amen!” to that.
Maybe that’s why it is used as a blessing at the end of our services. To go out and bless others!