Meaningful touch and a spoken (or written) message — these first two elements lead up to the content of the words themselves. To convey the blessing, the words must attach high value to the person being blessed.
In blessing Jacob (thinking it was Esau), Isaac said, "Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed. ... Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you" (Gen. 27:27, 29).
That pictures a very valuable person! Not just anybody merits having nations bow down to him! And while we might think that calling a person a field would be criticizing him, that is not the case. A blessed field was one where there was tremendous growth and life and reward. Just ask a farm kid what a record crop, all ready to harvest, means to his or her parents. That's the picture Isaac gives his son.
As you may have noticed, Isaac uses a word picture (the field) to describe how valuable his son is to him. Word pictures are a powerful way of communicating acceptance. In the Old Testament they were a key to communicating to a child a message of high value — the third element of the family blessing.
A fourth element of the blessing is the way it pictures a special future for the person being blessed. Isaac said to his son Jacob, "May God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth. ... Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you" (Gen. 27:28–29).
Even today, Jewish homes are noted for picturing a special future for their children. One story I heard illustrates this activity very well.
Sidel, a young Jewish mother, was proudly walking down the street, pushing a stroller with her infant twins. As she rounded the corner, she saw her neighbor, Sarah. "My, what beautiful children," Sarah cooed. "What are their names?" Pointing to each child, Sidel replied, "This is Bennie, the doctor, and Reuben, the lawyer."
This woman believed her children had great potential and a special future before them. Isaac believed the same about his son and communicated that in his blessing — as we should communicate to those we seek to bless.
One distinction should be made between Isaac's blessing and the act of picturing a special future for a person today. Because of Isaac's unique position as a patriarch (God's appointed leader and a father of the nation of Israel), his words to Jacob carried with them the weight of biblical prophecy. We today cannot predict another person's future with such biblical accuracy. But we can help those we are blessing see a future that is full of light and opportunity. We can let them know we believe they can build an outstanding life and future with the strengths and abilities God has given them.
Our Lord himself speaks quite eloquently about our future in the Bible. In fact, he goes to great lengths to assure us of our present relationship with him and of the ocean full of blessings in store for us as his children.
We need to picture just such a special future for our children if we are serious about giving them our blessing. With this fourth element of the blessing, a child can gain a sense of security in the present and grow in confidence to serve God and others in the future.
The last element of the blessing concerns the responsibility that goes with giving the blessing. For the patriarchs, not only their words but God himself stood behind the blessing they bestowed on their children. Several times God spoke directly through the angel of the Lord to the patriarchs confirming his active commitment to their family line.
Parents today, in particular, need to rely on the Lord to give them the strength and staying power to confirm their children's blessing by expressing such an active commitment. They, too, have God's Word through the Scriptures as a guide, plus the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Why is active commitment so important when it comes to bestowing the blessing? Words alone cannot communicate the blessing; they need to be backed with a willingness to do everything possible to help the one blessed be successful. We can tell a child, "You have the talent to be a very good pianist." But if we neglect to provide a piano for that child to practice on, our lack of commitment has undermined our message.
When it comes to spending time together or helping develop a certain skill, some children hear, "Wait until the weekend." Then it becomes, "Wait until another weekend" so many times that they no longer believe the words of blessing.
The fifth element of the blessing, an active commitment, is crucial to communicating the blessing in our homes.
That's a brief overview of the five elements of the blessing that can become a life-changing part of how we do family. Provide the five basic ingredients of the blessing — meaningful touch, a spoken (or written) message, attaching high value to the one being blessed, picturing a special future for him or her, and confirming the blessing by an active commitment — and personal acceptance can thrive in a home.