Written By Eudora Chuah, Singapore
Recently, I was intrigued to learn that one of the hashtags that took social media by storm in the past few years wasn’t a new concept—or new word, for that matter. It was the word “blessed”.
A quick scroll through Instagram will show at least 72 million posts tagged with #blessed. They cover a variety of things, from prized possessions and luxurious holiday destinations to pictures of friends and family. They’re also commonly used with an image of an inspiring quote, some from the Bible.
Although I have not personally used the hashtag on social media, I’ve found myself using the word in my conversations—sometimes quite casually. For instance, I tend to say, “I’ve been blessed to be able to know certain people, do certain things, or have certain opportunities”.
So what’s the big deal? you may be thinking. Well, here’s why: More often than not, blessed does not mean what we think it does.
As Christians, we use this word all the time—and certainly not only where possessions or wealth are concerned. But it may be surprising to note that even in a secular context, the word “blessed” is not defined as being materially well-to-do or privileged. In fact, the Oxford dictionary defines “blessed” as “being made holy, consecrated”, or “to be endowed with divine favour or protection”. Other dictionary definitions of the word include “bringing happiness and thankfulness”, or being “worthy of reverence or worship”.
It was interesting to read several news columnists voicing their displeasure at the use of #blessed. These writers observed that overuse of the word has stripped it of its meaning. To them, using the hashtag actually disguises an attempt to humble-brag—to promote oneself rather than express genuine gratitude for what one has.
What, then, does the Bible say about being “#blessed”? Ephesians 1:3 (ESV) tells us that we have been given “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places”. One might wonder if this suggests that God has promised us material possessions such as holidays and prized possessions, or the assurance of good friends and a loving family. Yet, while these may indeed be good gifts from a loving God (Matthew 7:11, James 1:17, Luke 11:13), they are certainly not what the Bible has in mind when discussing “every spiritual blessing”.
How do we know this? Just after Paul talks about it in Ephesians 1:3 (ESV), he immediately explains that we are blessed because we are chosen before the foundation of the world (v. 4) and redeemed from judgment of our sin (v. 7). After God has redeemed us from judgment, He reunites all things in Christ. This is seen in the establishment of the church, made up of both Jews and Gentiles (v. 10). Lastly, we are blessed because we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit (v. 13). God gives us these blessings “to the praise of His glory”—in other words, that He may be glorified in giving us these blessings.
How should we respond? For me, it’s about recognizing that being “blessed” is a status God the Father gives us because of what He has accomplished through His Son. Our focus should not be on the benefits we receive. Instead, in knowing that God alone is the author of our faith, our rightful response should be to ascribe greatness to Him—to take delight in God Himself and not just in His gifts.
Personally, this gives me great comfort and hope, because I know that being #blessed remains true regardless of circumstances and what I have done.
It is my desire that God will remind me of this truth constantly, that I may learn to be content with what I have—knowing that being #blessed has nothing to do with material wealth, but everything to do with having received the greatest gift of God Himself.