Blessed and Highly Favored: Empty Slogan or Spiritual Reality?
If you spend enough time in Christian community, you will learn that there are common sayings that make up Christian vernacular. I like to call it “Christianese.” While it has become fashionable to throw shade at common sayings among believers, that is not my intention here. There is nothing wrong with common language that defines a community. The issue is when these sayings and phrases are divorced from biblical foundation and understanding.
For instance, there is a phrase used in greetings all the time. I am pretty sure that you have heard it: “I’m blessed and highly favored!” I’ve seen it on license plates and even t-shirts. It is this phrase that I would like to unpack in the remainder of this post. (See what I just did there?)
Forcing God’s Blessing
Is this statement true? Is it biblical? If so, why? Before I proceed to answer these questions, I must point out that there is a common and dangerous error in which some believe that the statement ‘blessed and highly favored’ can be made true simply by repeating it. The logic seems to be that if it is said enough, it will become a reality. It teaches that we can will ourselves into the blessings of God. This is false because it makes human effort the foundation of God’s blessings instead of the person and the work of Jesus Christ.
The Bible emphatically teaches that Christians are blessed and highly favored by God. The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3). The key phrase is “in Christ.” The blessings that believers enjoy and will enjoy in salvation are bound to our union with Christ. These blessings are grounded in God’s grace and mercy, not in human confession.
We are blessed because God has graciously willed it to be so. No one deserves God’s blessings on his or her own merit. No one has the ability to force God’s hand to bless based on works (Eph. 2:1-10). God never has been nor, will he ever be indebted to humanity. He has poured out his goodness on his people according to his own purpose and to the praise of his glorious grace (Eph. 1:5-6).
God the Father purposed to adopt us into his covenant family as daughters and sons with full rights as citizens of his kingdom (Eph. 1:3-6; John 1:12-13). He loves his children with an everlasting love and not one of God’s children will fail to see his goodness. The people of God are eternally loved by God.
God the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ became a human being to secure our redemption and the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus lived the sinless life that we never could have lived and died the death that we deserved to die as our substitute so that sin’s curse would be broken and so we could become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:17-20; Col. 1:12-14). The redeemed of the Lord are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). This is divine favor in the highest order.
God the Holy Spirit indwells and empowers his people to love God and love our neighbors. The Spirit of God has baptized the Lord’s people into the Lord’s body, the Church (Rom. 6). He testifies within each believer as the Spirit of adoption that we are God’s children (Rom. 8:12-17). As our great Comforter, he helps us in weakness and prayer and keeps us (Rom. 8:26-30; John 14:15-21). The Church is blessed and edified by his gifts and we can give powerful testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ as he works through us (1 Cor. 11:4-11; Acts 4:33). Everybody say blessed (in my Fred Hammond voice)!!
Blessed and Highly Favored
God in his fullness has committed himself to our good for his glory. However, I must add a word of caution here.
God’s blessings upon his people do not mean that we won’t have to endure pain, suffering, and loss in this life. When Mary was greeted by the angel, she was called favored. The Lord chose Mary as a vessel to give birth to the promised Messiah. This great honor was not without struggle. Mary’s integrity was called into question and Joseph came close to divorcing her. God called her favored, and yet from a human perspective, it looked as if she had been unfaithful.
Paul was used mightily by God. He was led by the Spirit to write Scripture. He was used to work miracles, take the gospel to foreign lands, plant churches, and raise up leaders. Yet he was forced to flee for his life; he was beaten; he was arrested, and ultimately executed.
The blessing and favor that have been secured for us by Christ do not exempt us from trials. They keep us strong during testing. They keep our feet in the fight. They keep our eyes on Christ from whom all blessings flow.
If you have ever uttered the words ‘blessed and highly favored’ about yourself as a child of God, do not stop. Just remember that the statement is not a reality because you say it. Say it because in Christ, it is your reality.