Are You Damming Up Your Relationships?
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.” Deu. 30:19
In my last blog post, (Part 3 of “Did You Miss the Parental Blessing? – Making a Choice”), we read about a decision we all must make. If we choose to move toward God and others, we add life to our relationships. “Choose life so that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19 nrsv). If we chose to step away from God and others, we’re choosing death. Authors of The Blessing, by John Trent and Gary Smalley tell us: “The idea is that death is stepping away from others, from life, from what we have built or shared with others.”1 But there’s more to Deuteronomy 30:19. “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses…” (NRSV). Today, we’ll look at the idea of blessings and curses. This understanding was profound for me in light of my upbringing and how I would parent my own children.
If you’re a Christ-follower, you probably already know that Jesus is our ultimate blessing. There is no other blessing more valuable. When we highly value someone, we give them honor and our hearts desire to bless them. Liken the Hebrew word for “bless” to that of “bowing the knee.”2 When meeting a king or queen today it is customary to bow before them in order to give them their due honor. The word “honor” also has a similar word meaning. It carries the idea of adding weight or value to someone.3 Here is again a portrait from John Trent and Gary Smalley to give us a word picture:
I biblical times, you didn’t just hand someone a coin with a specific denomination stamped on it as we do today. In Old Testament times, a coin might carry an inscription or even a picture of a ruler or someone of great value. But the way you determined how much it was worth was to put it on a scale. The greater the weight, the higher the value.4
When we choose to bless someone we choose to add value to their lives. When our loved one returns home from deployment we honor them in their long-awaited return. We wait pier-side with colorful hand-made banners that shout, “Welcome Home, Dad!” or “We Missed You, Mom!” We celebrate their return by going out to dinner as a family or we clear our busy schedules to spend those first few days together. When we welcome home our loved one in this fashion, what we’re really doing is blessing him or her.
It stands only to reason then that when we step away from those we have relationships with we’re “subtracting” the good, or the things that would add life for them.5 The word for “curse” in the Deuteronomy passage means “trickle” or “muddy stream” caused by a dam or obstruction upstream.6 We all know that water is necessary for life. Think of those blessings we can choose to give others as the life-sustaining water. Anytime we choose to obstruct blessings to others, what we’re really doing is putting a dam in place and withholding what others need in order to live well. Do we withhold that hug, or refrain from speaking those words that convey affirmation and acceptance? Flowing water symbolizes movement, life, and blessings, but water damned up, unable to flow symbolizes death, and curses.
Unfortunately, for some of us, there are people in our lives that always blocked up the dam. They withheld what was supposed to bless us as children or young adults. While Jesus went about His work on earth doing His Father’s will, part of that will was to bless those who were outcasts. He gave them what had previously been blocked-those life changing words to change their future, or that physical touch to convey He valued them. He stepped towards those others stepped away from and cursed.
Our second choice then, after choosing life, is to choose to bless our loved ones. What do you have damned up that needs releasing in order to bless that someone? What can you add into someone’s life today that conveys your love and acceptance?
There are five elements to the blessing in John Trent and Gary Smalley’s book, The Blessing. On Thursday’s post we’ll get into the first element of the blessing. See you then! If you have a story to share, please reply below. Thank you!
1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN., Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 36.
2 Ibid. 37.
4 Ibid. 37-38.
5 Ibid. 38.