Quite possibly, the most frequently used word in the Christian’s vocabulary is blessed. “Have a blessed day,” “blessed to be a blessing,” and “God bless you” are just a few of the ways we put it to use. It’s even common among unbelievers to describe themselves as “blessed.” Some people think of blessed as a spiritual term for “good fortune,” like when we receive something good, the desired outcome, or an exceptional comfort. But what does it really mean to be blessed?
The Greek word often translated as “blessed” in our Bibles is makarios, which means “fortunate,” “happy,” “enlarged,” or “lengthy.” Makarios is used to define the kind of happiness that comes from receiving favor from God. Consequently, the word can also be translated “favored,” as with Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was “blessed among women” (Luke 1:42–45, 48). It was the Lord God who had blessed and favored her.
Perhaps the most well-known use of the word blessed in the Bible is found in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–12), where Jesus used the term to describe the inner quality of a faithful servant of God. This blessedness is a spiritual state of well-being and prosperity—a deep, joy-filled contentment that cannot be shaken by poverty, grief, famine, persecution, war, or any other trial or tragedy we face in life.
The true servant of God is blessed, regardless of circumstances, because God has favored him or her with a fully satisfied soul (Psalm 63:1–5; John 4:14). The material things we crave can never bring genuine happiness or contentment. True fulfillment can only be found in a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1–2).
From the time God first created humans, He blessed them (Genesis 1:22; 5:2; 12:3) and has continued to do so throughout history (Genesis 26:3; Deuteronomy 7:13; Job 42:12; Judges 13:24). Because of Christ’s work of redemption on the cross, we can now receive the full blessings of God through faith in Him (Ephesians 1:3). We are blessed because our sins are forgiven and can no longer be counted against us (Psalm 32:1–2).
The Bible measures blessedness differently from how people of the world measure it: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). To those who rest in God, He grants an inner state of joy that is unaffected by external trials. What is this promised “crown of life?” It is the never-ending, victorious life in the world to come, where all trials will be ended. The marvelous blessings we experience now are minor compared to the benefits God has stored up for us in His eternal kingdom (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Blessed speaks of our inner state of well-being, the prosperity of our souls in Christ. Blessedness comes from unhindered fellowship with God the Father through our Lord Jesus. To be blessed is to experience the full impact of God’s presence in our lives now and for all eternity.