Most of us are comfortable offering the words, “Bless you” when someone sneezes. After all, it is the polite thing to do. Of course, I’m attracted to our cultural traditions, so I looked up the origin of this behavior. Our ancestors believed that it might be possible with a sneeze to lose your soul, so “God bless you” was offered to prevent the devil from claiming you. Fortunately, your soul isn’t typically lost by a sneeze, but it can be lost in other ways. The scripture about “gaining the world and losing your soul” comes to mind.

But let’s focus on what it means when we genuinely want to bless those around us. Why do we want to give and receive blessings? First Peter 3:8 says in part, “bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.It’s not difficult to identify those things we genuinely feel have blessed our lives. We’ve been blessed with the basics, of food, shelter, and water, and we’ve been blessed with talents and gifts and generous spirits. We’ve been blessed with good friends, and kind neighbors, and even sweet family members. The difference that exists in our hearts and minds though is that some assume blessings are a result of efforts they’ve made, or rights they deserve due to inheritance or position. Others recognize the blessing of God’s favor. They believe that humans didn’t begin the story of their own history. God did! 

When God blessed Abraham, He told him that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him. In other words, God intended to share Abraham’s blessings from one generation to the next. With that example, He allows the rest of us to be a blessing to one another. 

“The Lord bless you and keep you,” as it says in Numbers, is a prayer, a genuine and compassionate concern for your life and well-being. It was echoed from the hearts of God’s people to everyone they met, seeking each person’s well-being and protection. It’s a tradition and practice we might still want to adopt today. 

A blessing may be offered when you sneeze, but it’s even better when it’s offered simply because you matter just as you are.

With that, you can consider yourself blessed with every sunrise.