This article is an installment of Holy Joys Questions. Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: When holiness people shout, praise the Lord, or run the aisles, why do they call it “getting blessed?” Aren’t they just delighting in the Lord and blessing Him? Why do they think when they feel like doing this it is a sign of God’s approbation? Why do many preachers and singers think that when this happens while they are ministering, it is a sign of God’s approbation on themselves?
God inspired the psalmists to direct his people to praise to Him in a variety of ways. Some of these ways are not part of our standard worship repertoire. For example, the psalms command us to lift our hands to the Lord (Psa. 134:2), to clap our hands to the Lord (Psa. 47:1), to shout for joy (Psa. 32:11; 47:1; 132:9), and to praise Him with musical “dance” (Psa. 149:3; 150:4; cf. Jer. 31:13).
Make full use of the range of praiseful expressions found in Scripture.
The psalmists lifted their hands in worship as a sacrifice of praise (Psa. 141:2; cf. Psa. 63:4), as an expression of supplication (Psa. 28:2), and as an expression of longing for God (Psa. 143:6).
I don’t know any way to verify how “getting blessed” language developed. However, I suspect that the logic goes something like this:
- One of the greatest joys of a Christian is to sense the presence of God (cf. Psa. 16:11).
- I don’t always sense the presence of God in the same way and to the same degree (cf. Psa. 13:1).
- When God allows me to sense His presence that is a gift from Him, a blessing (cf. Psa. 21:6).
- Thus, I am getting a blessing or “getting blessed” by God when I am sensing His presence.
It is normally true that those who “get blessed” express their sense of God’s presence through physical motion (e.g., raised hands) and verbal praise (e.g., Hallelujah!). Yet, others express their awareness of God’s present in tears or quietness (cf. Psa. 65:1). Scripture does not identify only one or two ways in which God’s people may express their joy in Him. The variety we find in the Psalms suggests that God’s love for variety extends to expresses of praise and joy as well.
I can think of two errors that are closely associated with this topic. First, all of us know that it is possible for the joyful expressions of the godly to be imitated for selfish or hypocritical ends. Yet, we must not reject truth because it’s spoken by an untrustworthy person, or throw a biblical “baby” out with the bathwater.
The misuse of biblical expressions of praise should be corrected by Spirit-filled leaders who courageously rebuke those who would use praise to God for self-centered purposes. I would encourage you to make full use of the range of praiseful expressions found in Scripture.
The other error assumes that God’s blessing is necessarily a sign of God’s approval. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God’s visible presence at Mt. Sinai was not approval of their idolatry. God’s blessing of David was no approval of his polygamy. The Spirit’s empowerment of Samson was not approval of his fornication.
God’s blessing is no sure sign of His approval.
I’m reminded of a story H. Robb French once told. He was preaching a camp meeting together with another evangelist. His altars were barren; the other man’s altars were lined. After another service in which he preached his heart out with no response, he thought, “I should have my fellow evangelist pray for me.” Seeing a light on in his trailer and the door slightly open, he made his way over to humble himself and ask for prayer. When he arrived, through the screen door, he could see the other evangelist sprawled on a couch in a drunken stupor with a fifth of whiskey bottle empty beside him. It was later discovered that the drunken evangelist was committing adultery as well.
Were altars lined with seekers a sign of God’s approval upon that man? Far from it! Rather, they were probably the mercy of God extended to bring the man to repentance. By the same token, the barrenness of the altars after H. Robb French preached were not a sign of God’s disapprobation. God used that confusing experience to bring to light the sin of the other evangelist. God’s blessing is no sure sign of His approval.
Originally published in God’s Revivalist. Used by permission.