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Blog / Blessed to Bless: An Interview with Mark Batterson

Blessed to Bless: An Interview with Mark Batterson

Mark BattersonWhat does it mean to flip the blessing by blessing others in the way God has blessed us? How can we turn giving into a game and experience an exponential joy in the process? What does the Bible say about blessings?

Bible Gateway interviewed Mark Batterson (@MarkBatterson) about his book, Double Blessing: How to Get It. How to Give It. (Multnomah, 2019).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, God Still Performs Miracles: An Interview with Mark Batterson]

What is the meaning of your book’s title?

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Mark Batterson: The idea of “Double Blessing” traces all the way back to the prophet Zechariah. He is writing to Jewish refugees who have returned from 70 years of captivity in Babylon. “Return to your strong hold, O Prisoners of hope.” I love this! He is writing to prisoners of war, but he calls them prisoners of hope. Then God says in chapter 9, verse 12: “Today I declare that I will restore to you double.”

The NIV says, “I will restore twice as much.” The KJV says, “I will render double unto thee.” The NLT says, “I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.” The Message says, “I’m declaring a double bonus.”

I want to be really careful right here. I don’t think we can turn biblical principles into quadratic equations. I don’t think Double Blessing means a 200% return on every investment. Of course, sometimes it does. Job is exhibit A. Blessing doesn’t discount pain and suffering. Job endures unbelievable setbacks, unimaginable heartbreaks. But Job 42:10 says, “When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before.”

Where does the idea of blessing come from in Scripture?

Mark Batterson: Before original sin, there was original blessing. That sequence is significant. Blessing is God’s most ancient instinct. It sets the tone. It sets the table. God won’t bless greed or pride or laziness. We have to position ourselves for blessing, but God’s posture toward us, God’s default setting, God’s first and foremost reflex is blessing. It’s who God is. It’s what God does. God wants to bless you beyond your ability to ask or imagine. God has blessings for you in categories you cannot conceive of.

What do you mean, “Before original sin, there was original blessing”?

Mark Batterson: I don’t doubt original sin; I have children! But children need to know that they’re blessings first and sinners second. We all do! If we see ourselves as sinners first and blessings second, it creates all kinds of identity issues. I don’t doubt the sin nature—all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God—but sin is secondary and blessing is primary in the book of Genesis.

It was Irenaeus who first alluded to original sin. Augustine expounded on the idea of original sin in the fourth century, but in a less optimistic, more deterministic fashion. And then the protestant reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin among them, picked up on this idea of original sin, took it to the Nth degree, and I think that’s when Original Sin overshadowed Original Blessing.

Now, do I make such a big deal about Original Blessing coming first? In Aristotelean philosophy, there’s something called a first principle. It’s a basic assumption. It’s a foundational truth. Aristotle said a first principle is “the first basis from which a thing is known.” We need to know, first and foremost, that we’re blessed by God Almighty! And I’ll take it one step further: we are blessed to bless!

What is the importance of the priestly blessing God instructed Aaron to pronounce over the Israelites?

Mark Batterson: If you’re in Christ, you’re part of this royal priesthood according to 1 Peter 2:9: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” That means we need to add a little hyphen to our occupation. You’re not just a lawyer or teacher or Uber driver. You’re a lawyer-priest, a teacher-priest, an Uber-priest. It’s our job to pronounce blessing on everybody that God puts in our path!

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What does it mean to give God continual thanksgiving?

Mark Batterson: The will of God is a lot less circumstantial and a lot more attitudinal than we think. In fact, we already know the will of God. It’s 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

According to the Talmud, the Jewish commentary on the Old Testament, “A man embezzles from God when he makes use of this world without uttering a blessing.” In other words, if you enjoy something without giving thanks, it’s as if you’ve stolen it from God. Anything less than gratitude is grand larceny! An observant Jew would pronounce 100 blessings per day. As a starting point, I might recommend three gratitudes per day. It’ll keep negativity at bay!

What is the secret of double blessing?

Mark Batterson: The secret of the double blessing is this: the way you get it is by giving it. Joy is found on the giving side of life! Simply put, we’re blessed to bless. The first blessing is recognizing that every good and perfect gift is from God, and we’ve got to inventory those blessings. The double blessing is flipping the blessing for others.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Mark Batterson: I have a few favorites. God used Jeremiah 1 to confirm my call into full-time ministry, so that passage is incredibly personal. My favorite verse is Ephesians 2:10: “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works prepared for me in advance.” That’s where my holy confidence comes from. We’re God’s magnum opus, and God is setting us up!

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?

Mark Batterson: I use the Bible Gateway App all the time! I’m old enough to remember flipping through an actual concordance; the kind made from trees! Bible Gateway helps me connect the dots of Scripture and see the big picture. Instead of spending all my time searching, I can spend my time meditating!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Mark Batterson: When I wrote Double Blessing, I thought it was a book about gratitude and generosity. And it is. But at its core, it’s about rediscovering God’s heart toward us. My prayer is that this book will begin a new season of blessing in people’s lives!


Bio: Mark Batterson is the author of 18 books including the ECPA Christian Book award-winning Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God, the USA TODAY bestseller Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small, and The New York Times bestseller The Circle Maker. He’s the founder and lead pastor of National Community Church (NCC), one church with seven campuses throughout Washington DC. NCC, known as one of the most innovative and influential churches in America, also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, the Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Batterson has a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and lives in the Capitol Hill area with his wife and their three children. For more information, visit him online at markbatterson.com.

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Filed under Books, Discipleship, Interviews