Michael Sam, who became the NFL’s first openly gay player when he was drafted by the Rams, was formally introduced at a press conference in St. Louis. Sam thanked Rams coach Jeff Fisher, owner Stan Kroenke and General Manager Les Snead for bringing him to the team.
“I’m blessed,” Sam said. “I want to thank my head coach, Coach Fisher, and Mr. Kroenke and Mr. Snead, for giving me the opportunity to play here.”
After signing a four year contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks, cornerback Richard Sherman announced, “I am blessed to announce that the Seattle Seahawks and I have reached an agreement on a contract extension.”
When athletes equate contracts with blessing, and when ordinary people end conversations with, “Have a blessed day,” I wonder if we have trivialized the meaning of the word. That’s the conclusion of author Jessica Bennett in an article in the New York Times,
There’s nothing quite like invoking holiness as a way to brag about your life. But calling something “blessed” has become the go-to term for those who want to boast about an accomplishment while pretending to be humble, fish for a compliment, acknowledge a success (without sounding too conceited), or purposely elicit envy. Blessed, “divine or supremely favored,” is now used to explain that coveted Ted talk invite as well as to celebrate your grandmother’s 91st birthday. It is carried out in hashtags (#blessed), acronyms (#BH, for the Hebrew “baruch hasem,” which means “blessed be God”), and even, God forbid, emoji.
Blogger Rachael Held Evans observes,
For some reason, I feel like calling myself “blessed” sends the message that I have somehow earned God’s special favor, that God is rewarding me for good behavior, and that the millions of people who suffer from war, famine, poverty, and sickness because they weren’t lucky (or blessed or fortunate) enough to be born in the wealthiest nation in the world are simply not as loved by God.
According to the New Bible Dictionary, when applied to God, the word “blessed” has the sense of praise. When applied to man, it denotes a state of happiness. I certainly want to feel happiness. What do I need to do to sense God’s smile and approval on my life?
Scripture gives numerous examples of the type of people that receive God’s blessing.
- Those who delight in God’s Word (Psalm 1:1-6)
- Those who find refuge in God (Psalm 2:12)
- Those who experience forgiveness (Psalm 32:1-2)
- Those who trust God (Psalm 40:4; Jeremiah 17:7)
- Those who take care of the poor (Psalm 41:1-2; Proverbs 14:21)
- Those who experience God’s discipline (Psalm 94:12)
- Those who practice justice and righteousness (Psalm 106:3)
- Those who fear God and live uprightly (Psalm 112:1-2)
- Those who represent God (Psalm 118:26)
- Those who live with integrity and obey God’s law (Psalm 119:1-2; Proverbs 29:18)
- Those who acknowledge their spiritual condition, long for God, and are persecuted for their faith in God (Matthew 5:3-12)
In light of these conditions and many others that could be added, perhaps we should rethink how we use the word “blessed” and whether or not we claim to have received God’s blessing.