Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Blessed Part Two

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

The poor in spirit, those who know God and understand how far they are from His standard of holiness, will inherit the kingdom of heaven. The word inheritance implies that the poor in spirit are heirs, children of the most high God. The first step in being a child of God is to understand who God is and who we are and how far we are from Him on our own. The second step is mourning our separation from the Father. If we understand who God is, who we are and grieve the distance between us the Father will comfort us. We are comforted by the family of fellow believers, the Holy Spirit, a relationship with the Father and His firstborn, Jesus Christ.
Our morning over the separation between us and God should lead to meekness. The dictionary definition of meek is humbly patient, docile, submissive, compliant, gentle or kind. I think we only need to look to our Savior, Jesus, to see an example of meekness. I think many times we equate meekness with not standing up and avoiding confrontation but the example of meekness that Jesus set is somewhat different from this idea. Jesus was at times confrontational (interacting with the Pharisees, throwing the money changers out of the temple) and other times gentle and kind. Jesus was God made man. He had the ability to call down armies of angels and had all the power of the Father but throughout his time on earth he lived a life of sacrifice to others and submission to the Father’s will. He always acted in accordance with God’s will in whatever way was best for everyone involved. I think a better definition of biblical meekness is great power under control. The opposite of meek is stubborn, obstinate and regenerate. If we truly understand who we are and who God is how could we not submit to His will, how could we not be meek? It is also interesting that Jesus said the meek shall inherit the earth. This is so different from the message from the view of the world, particularly in America. The world tells us we have to fight for everything, stubbornly insist on getting what we want and the ends justify the means. As long as I get what I want anything goes, the very opposite of meek.

The next verse tells us “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” So…understanding who we are in light of who God us, mourning the separation, submitting to the will of the Father should lead us to hunger and thirst for righteousness – to close the separation between us and God. The language of this verse is interesting, the verse does not say those who would like to be righteous or those who want to be righteous but those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Hunger and thirst go beyond wanting; these are needs that must be filled for life to continue. The verse also says those who hunger and thirst will be filled. We can have a seat at the Father’s table. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
True contentment, being blessed, begins with knowing the Father. Our very life and the life of those around us depend on it. Christ set an example for all us. He came to us, became flesh, and all the temptations and trials that go along with it, and sins. He made the ultimate sacrifice that we might know the Father. I pray that all of us can, in some way, follow this example.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I recently taught a Sunday school class based on the Sermon on the Mount. As I prepared for the class each week I was reminded that Jesus commands us to be engaged in relationships. Everything we do should be focused on Him and behaving more like Him every day and we can only do this through relationships. First we need a relationship with the Father which is made possible through Jesus. Next we need to be in relationship with the people all around us.

The Sermon on the Mount starts with the beatitudes. The beatitudes describe the process of building a relationship with God and the characteristics of a person who is in a relationship with God. The beatitudes begin with –

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:3-4

In this context the word blessed means content or satisfied, Just as Paul said to the people of Philippi in Philippians 4:11 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” So…being content in all circumstances starts with being poor in spirit but what does it mean to be poor in spirit? I think Isaiah gave us a great description of what it means to be poor in spirit, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah had a vision of God and when he came face to face with the Father he also came face to face with who he was and the separation between himself as a man and the awesome holiness of God. So, Matthew 5:3 tells us we will begin to find commitment when we understand who we are in light of a holy, perfect, righteous, infinite God who created all things and holds all things.
The second beatitude “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” builds on the first. When we realize who we are in light of who God we should mourn just as Isaiah did. When Isaiah got a glimpse of himself from God’s perspective he responded by crying out “Woe to me! I am ruined!” The distance that Isaiah saw between himself and God caused Isaiah to grieve for himself and his people. Based on Matthew 5:3-4 the foundation for real contentment starts with understanding who we are, who God is and the separation between His holiness and our lives. This distance between our lives and the holiness of God should cause us to grieve for ourselves and those around us.

I think everyone is searching for contentment but for those who don’t know God and never get a glimpse of His perspective the search just goes on and on. This is one reason we are called into relationship with people. We should be reaching out to people in our community and across the world and giving them a glimpse of God. If we have found the contentment of knowing who our God is and who we are, if we are mourning for ourselves and those around us, shouldn’t we be about evangelism and missions – reaching out to those who may never find what contentment truly is? Someone, somewhere reached out to us, let us follow their example and the example of Jesus by reaching out.