“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace” ’ " (Numbers 6:23-26).
As Christians what kinds of things should we be saying to each other? When we gather together, at times, we discuss the Scriptures. At other times, we may even need to confront each other, when we one of us is not walking according to the Scriptures (cf. James 5:19-20). Are there other kinds of conversations we should be having with each other to encourage one another in keeping the faith?
Following the erection of the tabernacle, as recorded in the books of Leviticus and Numbers, Moses receives a lot of detailed instructions from God that he was to share with God’s people. God expected his people to follow these commands and not waver from them in the least. After giving Moses detailed instructions, regarding how one was to carry out the “vow of a Nazarite” (Number 6:1-21), God tells Moses another important command that He wanted the priest to follow.
This particular command was not about an offering the Lord wanted them to make or a ceremonial cleansing He wanted them to follow. As the opening verses above indicate, this command was about a blessing He wanted them say to God’s children. As the priests blessed the children of Israel, they were calling upon God to bless, keep, make His face shine upon, be gracious, smile upon them, and give them peace (Numbers 6:22-26). By blessing the people with these words, God said, “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:27).
As one who often teaches and even preaches to God’s people, I often instruct my brethren in God’s laws and challenge their commitment to Christ. I want them to grow and mature as followers of Christ. This is necessary. Preachers are to convince, rebuke and exhort. Paul told Timothy, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). There is certainly a place for convincing God’s people of important truths and of rebuking them when they fail to follow them.
However, as Paul wrote to Timothy, he also spoke about the importance of exhorting God’s people. While keeping God’s laws are very important, following God is not just about keeping His commands. Following God also involves remembering that we are recipients of His blessings. Christians need to be encouraged that God loves them and wants to bless them. It is a challenge to live the Christian life and sometimes Christians need to be reminded that God is eager to bless them! They need to be reminded that the Lord makes His face shine upon them and desires to be gracious to them. God’s people also need to be reminded that God smiles upon them as He lifts up His countenance and wants to give peace to their lives.
As Christians, sometimes we focus too much on each other’s shortcomings and weaknesses. Instead of encouraging each other, we discourage each other. Instead of blessing each other, we curse each other (James 3:10). It is interesting that the apostle Paul could strongly rebuke a church like the church at Corinth which struggled with many sins, and, yet, still called on God to bless them. Remember that your brethren in Christ are a blessing and put God’s name on them to bless them.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14).