Blessing is one of those religious words that is not limited to Christians. Lots of people with a touch of religion talk about blessings.

  • We sing “God Bless America” even at secular events.
  • We’re reminded to “count our blessings” every Thanksgiving.
  • Those receiving awards (I’m thinking of you, country singer holding your CMA award) are thankful for how God has blessed their lives. (Do they still feel blessed if they don’t win the award?)

So even those with a small dose of religion know what a blessing is. It is something good God does for us. While that’s true, a blessing is so much more than that. For the average American, the operative words in that definition of a blessing is “good” and “for us.” But blessings may not always feel good. My pastor, Peter Allen, recently said, “A blessing is anything from God that brings us closer to Him. Even a hardship, a difficulty, can be a blessing if it brings us closer to Him.”

But blessings don’t just come from God. We can extend a blessing to someone else—and that blessing can be powerful.

Are you familiar with the story of Esau and Jacob? (Check out Genesis 25–28.) These twins were not identical! Far from it. Their looks and personalities were polar opposites, and they engaged in some serious sibling rivalry. Mom and Dad didn’t help. Isaac favored the first-born, Esau. After all, Esau did “manly” things: hunt, fish, and smell up the house. (According to Gen. 27:27, he smelled like a field, and this Texan knows what fields smell like.) Jacob, on the other hand, was a mama’s boy.

When Isaac was old and blind, he wanted to bless his son Esau, but Jacob took part in a great act of deception, receiving the blessing intended for Esau. This is where the story gets interesting to me. Isaac uttered words he intended for Esau. In his blind state, Isaac thought he was speaking words of blessing to Esau. What does it matter that Isaac heard the words?

There wasn’t anything magical in Isaac’s words. This was not a biblical version of some Hollywood B movie where words are uttered like an incantation that mystically empower the hearer like some resuscitated mummy.

No doubt God’s hand was in the blessing of Jacob. Even before the twins’ birth, God revealed that the younger son would rule and would have God’s favor (25:23). I think when Isaac discovered that he had “accidentally” spoken his blessing over Jacob, he was reminded of God’s plans—and he deliberately chose not to “unbless” Jacob. “Hey! That blessing belongs to Esau. I spoke it with him in mind so it’s his.”

The power of that blessing came in that, even when Isaac realized what he had done, he did not back down. He saw God’s hand on his younger son, Jacob, and he kept his blessing on Jacob. With his blessing, Isaac showed that he believed in his son; he spoke words that would encourage him in the difficult days ahead. Jacob was encouraged by Isaac’s words, and he was encouraged to move forward.

We have the same power to bless others—to encourage them so that they can confidently move forward. If I believe such-and-such about you and I tell you, then those words—that blessing—can translate into you believing that same thing. Therein lies the blessing—or the curse. (The same principle applies to when we speak derisively against a person.) When we speak a blessing over others, those words can empower them with confidence and they end up living out the very thing we said about them!

I was a college kid with big dreams, but no idea what to do. One evening my father had a layover in the city where I was attending college. I went to the airport and met him for dinner. (Yeah, this was pre-9/11.) Over dinner I expressed some frustration about my future, and he simply said, “You have a gift to write.” I had been writing for years, but hearing those words from my father was an incredible blessing. I embraced that blessing, which God used to give me confidence and get me moving forward.

God has given you the power to bless others. He has given you the ability to speak truth and encouragement into the lives of others.

“A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings” (Prov. 25:11)

“No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).

Lord, use me to be a blessing to others. Use me to speak words of blessing and encouragement to those I encounter today.

Subscribe to this blog or like our Facebook page. And share this post with others.

If you would like a printable version of this, check out