Stop Saying “God Bless You”

Stop Saying God Bless YouOne of my pet peeves is how some Christians use “God Bless you” as a sort of greeting and salutation. This is how the conversations often go:

Christian: Hey, Jeremy! God bless you!

[We talk about something...]

Me: Well, I gotta run.

Christian: Okay! God bless you!

Me: Uhh. Yeah. Thanks.

I know. I know. They want me to say, “God bless you” back. But I don’t do that. (I might say “Bless you” after someone sneezes, but that is something I learned from my wife… which I heard goes back to some old wive’s tale about losing part of your brain when you sneeze…)

How Do You Respond When People say “God Bless You”?

When someone says, “God bless you,” what I want to say is: “He has. And He’s blessed you too. So let’s stop talking like religious nuts and have a conversation like normal people.”

I mean look, if you only say God bless you because you want someone to say God bless you back, is that really going to be much of a blessing for either of us?

Also, can we really call down the blessing of God upon our lives by appending every conversation with the words “God bless you”?

I always wonder if men who say this greet their wife and kids the same way when they leave for work or get home in the evening. “I’m leaving for work! God bless you!” or “Honey, I’m home! God bless you!” I really doubt it. But then, since I’m not a “God bless you” sayer, I don’t really know what happens in “God bless you” homes.

God Bless You and Other Christian Lingo

Worse yet are the conversations that not only begin and end with “God bless you” statements, but are also full of statements like, “What a blessing! …An answer to prayer! …God is so good. …That just blesses my heart. …Oh, bless your soul! …Praise Jesus! …Amen!”

I am not much of a conversationalist, but my conversations with people like this usually end much quicker than normal. I have written about this before in a post called “This Video Really Spoke to My Heart.”

Maybe this is just the “overcritical me” coming out to snarl at the super-spiritual Christians again. If so, I’m sorry. 

But what about you? Do you say, “God bless you”? Why or why not? Am I making too much of this? (Probably so) 


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Comments

  1. says

    I don’t say it, and I find it awkward for the same reasons when people say it to me and expect the sentiment returned to them. Especially when it’s a customer at my day job. But then I guess that’s where I hear it the most, seeing as I’m not very social outside of work. LOL.

      • Antoinette Young says

        I say God bless you mostly at the end of something I wrote to one of my brethren but I don’t do it because I want someone to say God bless you also. I guess with me it is just a practice or habit. I never looked at it in the slant at which you view it before though.

      • Nini says

        What about Christians who say “God Bless You” to a nonbeliever? That annoys me. Is it improper for a Christian to do that?

    • says

      Ha! Well, yes, I think the tone of this post is not as inquisitive as I meant it to be. I am trying to ask a question about why people say “God Bless you” (or don’t). Definitely wasn’t intending to sound holier-than-thou.

  2. Sam says

    In most contexts these religious sayings are probably meaningless and insincere. “God bless you” is sort of a religious substitute for hello, goodbye, and how are you? .

    We regularly spend time with the homeless, and usually take water, food and other items with us. We try to spend time with them, listen to their stories, find out their needs and so on. Distributing things to them is not our primary purpose for visiting them, just as taking a bouquet or bottle of wine is not most people’s primary purpose when visiting a friend.

    The homeless, even those who have never met us previously, regularly say “God bless you” when we leave. I understand that for some of them they’re doing what they think is expected of them when someone visits and brings something for them. However, there is often more to it than that.

    Some say “God bless you for coming down and spending time with us. Thank you for remembering us and caring about us.” Almost every time we go, there are a few who explain that something we gave them was exactly what they needed, had been unable to get through the usual places they get things (such as the size of pants they need, shoes in their size, underwear or whatever), and sometimes had prayed for that very morning.

    Last week we approached a man and woman who were sitting on the sidewalk. Their heads were down. I assumed they were dozing. I waited a few seconds and asked “Do you need water/” They raised their heads and said they did. Then I asked if they needed heavy long sleeve shirts for the cold nights. They stared at me, and after a strange silence asked what sizes I had. I had exactly their sizes.

    After they had put on the warm shirts I had given them, the man spoke. “We’ve been out here since yesterday, but weren’t prepared for the cold night. We asked some of the other homeless this morning where we could get some warmer clothes, and they told us we’d have to wait until tomorrow because there’s no place to get them on Sunday. We’re believers, so we decided to pray and ask God to help us out. While we were praying you walked up with exactly what we needed, plus water, a sandwich and fruit. God is good. God bless you.”

    That’s a condensed version of our conversation. Conversations like those, however, have helped me not ignore the “God bless you” comments I often hear.

    • says

      Sam, Right. I agree. I think in most contexts, it is little more than a religious greeting. I shouldn’t read too much into it.

      I think that given the situation in which someone said “God bless you” is exactly the right time, place, and context. You blessed them tangibly, and they blessed you in return, which in that context, means, “Thank you. You were God’s blessing to me, and I hope He blesses you in return.”

  3. Rachel says

    Do you think there may be an appropriate time to hear or say “May God bless you!” As well as an inappropriate time?

    I think when it has become just a phrase to help me sound spiritual or it is said without real thought then it has become meaningless lingo.

    When the persons who received an answer to a prayer express their gratitude through an expressed blessing, I feel it appropriate to respond either in kind or with something like “God has blessed us both by our meeting today!” It shows that we are engaged in the conversation and the relationship…. or so it seems to me.

  4. says

    Well, I’m going to buck the trend here and say that I’m a deliberate sayer of “God bless you.” There’s a pretty good biblical precedent for it, for one thing, but for another, I don’t say it casually. When I say or type “God bless,” I’m truly praying to ask God’s blessing on an individual. Furthermore, when I help a homeless person (to use an example from another comment), I want to make sure they know that I’m not just excercising my own kindness; I’m actually passing on God’s blessing to them.

    • says

      I am in agreement with you here. I do say God bless you, and I say it in all sincerity. However I also don’t say God bless you when people sneeze. Paul would end his letters by speaking a blessing to his readers. “God bless you” may not be as specific as Paul’s “May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you” was but in my heart I say it from deep within, with a deep desire for God’s grace to shower an individual.

    • says

      in our ministry, we have tried to get away from using “God Bless you” because of the cliche nature but also because of the need to communicate on the same level as the people we serve. Saying “God bless you” can make us seem superior, like we can somehow convey God’s blessing, or like we are in good with God and they are not. Lately, we have been saying “God Loves You” instead, because we want them to know that. it is really cool to watch someones face when you give them something ans simply say “God loves you”.

      Pastor FedEx

      • says

        Interesting. I am glad that you made a decision about what to say and why. Maybe I am a bit jaded by the use of the phrase in my own ministry setting where some people who use it simply seem to be trying to broadcast to everyone else, “Hey look at me! I am such a pious Christian!”

    • says

      I am sure I am too critical on this. I think I would love it if I sensed it was a genuine prayer for blessing. I get the feeling from some, however, that it is just a Christianized “hello.” And when said loudly and repeatedly in a public setting, it reminds me of what Jesus said about people praying in the marketplace and street corners to be seen and heard by men.

  5. Michael D. Figueroa says

    A couple of times you say “I know they want me to say it back.” So, what I’m reading is your assuming they want you to say it back. How do we know what they are looking for when they say it? Maybe it’s just a salutation or maybe they want God to bless us.

    To much “Christian speak,” sticks in my craw too. But, I try to let it go because I know people are in different points of their relationship with God.

    Mike

    Love your site!!!!

    • says

      Thanks for reading, Michael!

      For the most part, I do the same thing. I just let it go most of the time. I have never told anyone to their face to stop saying it…. just in a blog post that goes out to thousands of people. Ha! This post might not have been the best idea….

  6. says

    Jeremy,

    I’m completely with you on “Christian lingo fillers.” I seldom end a conversation or email with “God bless you,” but when I do, it is really a form of a prayer asking (implicitly) that God WOULD bless that person in whatever way they need to be blessed. Often it is sensing his presence in whatever difficult circumstance they just described. Does this make sense?

    Glenn

    • says

      Glenn,

      That is a great practice! I should have had my wife read over this post before I published it. My tone is much more negative than I intended. If someone says “God bless you” as a genuine form of prayerful blessing, I am all for it. Glad you have this practice.

  7. says

    If we meet (not likely with me in Holland and you over there) I will say: ‘Greetings Earthling’

    But to be honest, I do not say ‘God bless you’ to often. But I do not get anoyed by people who do. I mean, when I read blog comments or the like, people kinda talk funny as well (LOL, BFF, OMG). Every group has its own slang. Come to think about it, when people over-Christionise me in conversations I do tend to laugh a bit… Hopefully they do not hold me accountable. Can somebody echo that?

    Anyway, maybe the Dutch are a bit more down to earth?

    Jurgen

    • says

      Ha ha ha!!!

      Greetings!

      But don’t ask to be taken to our leader.

      You are right that every group has its own slang. “God bless you” is part of the Christian slang for many people. It looks, however, that some people say it with the prayerful intention of asking God’s blessing on the people they meet.

      And who knows? Maybe the Dutch are more down to earth. We American’s tend to be overzealous in most of what we do…

  8. says

    You are right, God has already blessed us. We have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.
    Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”

  9. says

    I do not agree with you. There is nothing wrong to say “God Bless You” We read too much into people’s minds. I do beleive they mean well. I will always end up my email by saying “God Bless” I do agree if some one over use
    the “God Bless You” to often, may 3 to 5 times. Do not make a mountain out of a molehill.

  10. Adrian says

    In the Bible it says if any two agree in “My Name” “I will answer”. It’s only when we say “good luck” etc. etc. or offer a blessing to one outside the faith that it goes into a cold shadow of its power and glory.

    • Clive Clifton says

      Dear Adrian, I get where your coming from but I disagree that
      If a Christian gives a blessing to a non believer it has nill effect
      when I worked for a short time on a check out in a supermarket
      I bade them farewell with a blessing, the choice was theirs to receive the gift and open it. I used to pray for each of my customers as I was talking to them.
      There were a few I let by as I felt I was to leave them for the present.
      I never had ant negative feed back.
      Jesus blessed non believers all the time as He healed and taught the people, the opportumity to believe and change was and still is available. Love Clive X

  11. Nancy says

    I do not think saying “God bless you” holds any meaning. We are to be the hands of God and we are to use them to bless others. Saying “God bless” is a cop out and makes us sound spiritual. Give those words some flesh, some substance, some color, some taste, some feeling. some compassion. Let someone know the blessing of God through you. Make Him and his blessings visible and real.

  12. Sondra Jenkins says

    I hear what you’re saying in terms of “God bless you” as trite, “Christian-ese” rhetoric; but when I say it, I mean it. I am genuinely praying that God would bless the person with what they are in need of. As I leave them, I often continue in prayer for them based on what I’ve seen, sensed or heard. I’m not trying to be “religious;” that’s just how I flow!

  13. Adrian says

    Glad to hear “Big Faith”; Clive, hate to put myself on the spot but was basing my response on scripture where it says something to the point of not blessing a person on a journey or path or on their way etc. leaning towards I believe that unbelievers are on a path outside of Christ. So something to the effect whereas as you don’t say to stranger “good luck” or something similar is how I’ve always took it.?

  14. Adrian says

    BTW someone I have been praying for outside of Christ has been softening their heart towards The Lord; understanding grace and love helps immeasurably!

  15. Rick says

    I think I have actually offended people when I don’t respond to a sneeze with “Bless you.” I just can’t get myself to do it. Maybe it’s a pride issue? I don’t know. And for the rest…. I do not like Christianese, so the words are rarely used, unless I feel a real prompting from God. Thanks for the fun conversation. Hearing all of the various responses has been quite interesting.

    • says

      It has been an interesting topic, with many points of view on the subject. Thanks for weighing in. I probably only say “God bless you” to my wife, because she says it to me. I don’t think I have ever said it to anyone else.

  16. Cam says

    Wow, there are some interesting post regarding this “phraseology”, however, I am of the mindset that if it’s religious jargon or well intentioned, I will take a God Bless you any day any time. ? Duet: 11:26 tells us “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse”.
    I know what God Bless you means to me. We are a family that speaks God’s blessing over our children daily, so again, I will take a God Bless you anytime, real or fake. Apostle Paul said, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed: so it’s difficult to understand how someone could take offense to someone saying God Bless You.
    Would you be offended or think it religious, or “Christianese”, if someone said Bless you with in this manner: may our Father, The Great I AM, El Shaddai, Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, Alpha and Omega, Jehovah Shalom, Raha, Tsidkenu, Jireh, Nissi, Mekoddishkem, Sabaoth, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Yeshua, Healer, Redeemer, and the precious Holy Spirit Bless you with every good and perfect gift. Would this be offensive? I don’t think so.
    That’s what I hear when someone says “God Bless You”. So I’ll say it, God Bless you my brothers and Sisters.

    • says

      Right. I don’t think it is offensive, it just comes across to some as unreal, or overly pious, or “holier-than-thou.” But again, I would rather take a “God bless you” than a “F* you” any day. In a day when people hurl curses around all the time, maybe it is good to pass around blessings as well.

  17. Lutek says

    I usually say “Bless you” when someone sneezes, because it is more meaningful than “Gesundheit” in most English conversations. That the blessings would come from God is implied, but no matter what faith, if any, the sneezer has, just saying it brings God, Allah, Jehovah the Tao, G-d, that which cannot be named, more into the awareness of both of us; which can never be a bad thing.
    “Gesundheit” means “good health.” “Bless you” seems more holistic to me – a wish for good spiritual health, as well as physical.
    I sometimes say “Bless you” to someone as a sincere expression of exceptional gratefulness. Perhaps my gratefulness should always be at the level of ‘exceptional’, and I’m working on it, but I’m “only’ human, after all!

  18. Lutek says

    I should add that it is an unobtrusive way of bringing God into the awareness of the moment. Unobtrusive is important. Outright preaching is offensive to many people. Also. hardly anyone is truly qualified to preach to anyone else. I haven’t yet encountered such a person.
    These words from a certain popular song, as uninspired as the rest of the lyrics may be, are worth bearing in mind:
    I can not save you;
    I can’t even save myself

    As (the original) Tiny Tim put it, “God bless us, every one.”

    • says

      Lutek,

      Absolutely. That is my only real point. I want to be unobtrusive, and be a real blessing to someone. If I am always spouting Christianese, this is annoying to some, and if I say, “Too bad, I am going to annoy them in Jesus name” I am not sure this is what Jesus wants us to do. There are so many ways to bless people other than saying “God bless you” I think we need the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to know how best to bless others.

  19. Kenny says

    Hey Jeremy,

    I have found that it is mostly younger Christians that do this sort of thing, I did when I first became a Christian in the 70’s and I wore a big wooden cross on the side of my pants and carried my bible everywhere I went. My dad used to say if it doesn’t hurt anyone and is not hugely distorting scripture but makes them feel closer to God, don’t knock it as it is better than them being in the world and maybe using foul language and going to hell.

  20. says

    I liked what Christopher Bowen said, that He has already blessed us. “May you love Him more, Learn more of His love for you and grow in your faith in Him that you may recognize and enjoy more of His blessings ” maybe is what I would like to hear said to me, and say too to another (though the other may not !); In fact a beautiful blessing in Numbers 6 while very relevant for then in the OT, is not so now in NT times (methinks). He HAS made His face to shine upon us, He HAS given us His peace etc. (since the time He redeemed us on the Cross), so saying May the Lord bless you etc. is like saying :you are not yet redeemed” or reflects a lack of acknowledgment / realization of the “Finished” work on the Cross. (OT ends where NT begins, at the Cross, not at Matt 1:1 and not even at Christmas/Birth of our dear Lord Jesus Christ.)

    • says

      Of course we should bless people. But blessing people does not just consist of saying “God bless you.” Let us actually bless them! Love, serve, help, heal, give. Tangible blessings.

  21. says

    I have no problem saying God bless you or someone saying it to myself. When I pray I ask for God blessings and also ask God in prayer to bless others. God want us to let others know that he is God the father that blesses others. All blessing come from the father. Many people feel that he blessing of God is a gift. I feel many don’t like to say God bless you because the don’t want others to know that they are spiritual. I’m very open sharing with others that I love God. The bible mention our father saying they hated me first.so if you are a lover of God you are heated. then I feel hate me. I welcome God blessing and I love hearing it. many of my friends who know God do not reject to hearing it or saying it. You here more people using God name in vain and some people is ok with that. I do understand when God says to be not of this world. Well you have a good day.

    • says

      Yes, each person must do what God is leading them to do. It sounds like you are able to help and encourage people by saying this. Remember to actually love and serve them as well (so you can BE a blessing) when you get the opportunity!

  22. ann says

    if they say “God bless you” to me, I say thank you… i’ll take all the blessings that come my way and be grateful. It has nothing to do with religion…

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