All That I Have Commanded You 2
August 24, 2015, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Culture, God | Tags: , ,

The Beatitudes

In the gospel of Matthew Jesus delivered a teaching on the Mount. It is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, but the lessons were given to the disciples. Note what the first 2 verses say:
Mat 5:1-2 NKJV “And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. (2) Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:”

This is clearly a teaching not a sermon, and the teaching was for his disciples, not for those who were not followers of Jesus. We shall look today at the teachings beginning in verse 3. Mat 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jerome one of the Fathers of the Church died around 420 BCE (aka AD) said this about this verse: Jerome: This is what we read elsewhere: “He shall save the humble in spirit.” Poor in spirit is to be willing to give up all our earthly self to serve God. Poor in spirit is to have humility, as Christ was humble. Humility in this context is not to say, fearful of power, but rather confident in faith.
Webster of Dictionary fame gave this explanation of humility: “In ethics, freedom from pride and arrogance; humbleness of mind; a modest estimate of one’s own worth. In theology, humility consists in lowliness of mind; a deep sense of one’s own unworthiness in the sight of God, self-abasement, penitence for sin, and submission to the divine will.”
Humility is a virtue, and a willingness to give of oneself to further the Kingdom of God in the world. This is a difficult thing to understand, primarily because, we live in a world where it is ME first and “devil take the hindmost”. So God tells us in this first of the beatitudes, that those who are poor in spirit, humble, receive the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us understand that Narcissism leads to that wide highway to hell, while virtue leads one to the narrow path to heaven.

The second of the beatitudes is: Mat 5:4 NKJV “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”
We are not talking here about the loss of a loved one or other human reasons for mourning such as, not getting that raise, not getting that promotion. Here we are talking about hurting because God is hurting. We who follow Jesus Christ come to know that pain suffered by our God as the world goes away from God and into greater and greater sin. We mourn for those souls who are lost to evil, that includes those who murder, rape, torture because they think it is what their own inner voice tells them to do. We mourn too for those who are driven into poverty by actions of others, or by the government making law without knowing or even thinking about the consequences of their action. So we mourn unrepentant sinner, one who thinks that their sin is OK and no one will care. Personally I shudder every time I hear the refrain, “my actions did not hurt anyone so it is OK.” The very idea of a victimless crime is a sin that leads one straight to hell. How can something be a crime, if there is no victim? Adultery when learned of, harms those who loved the adulterer and thought they were loved in return. Drug or alcohol addiction harms the entire family of the one addicted. Sin always has victims, the sinner thinks it is OK, but someone gets hurt by the activity of the other. So we Christians mourn for the sin in the world that hurts God and people, and we pray for that sin to be finally repented of before it is too late.

The next of the beatitudes is: Mat 5:5 NKJV “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.” Turning to Webster again: “Mild of temper; soft; gentle; not easily provoked or irritated; yielding; given to forbearance under injuries.” We are talking here about people who are aware of who they are, and whose they are, they humble, peaceful even in the face of adversity, and yet, lions when it comes to standing for what God says is right. Meek does not connote weakness, but rather an inner strength that comes from complete trust in God, total faith in the presence of God with us.

Knowing that when Jesus returns to bring us home, we shall inherit the earth as His people, of course an earth that has been reborn, cleansed and made new by the hand of God. That is the promise here, we shall inherit the earth.

The next of the beatitudes is: Mat 5:6 NKJV “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” What do we mean by righteousness when we talk about it in this context. The Bible tells us that there are none righteous, no not one, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 tells us this. This verse tells us that those who hunger and thirst for true righteousness, those who work at being true to the gospel, whose lives are lived in truth, honesty, grace, love, those who truly seek to live holy lives shall be filled.
All Christians the Bible teaches are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and all are seen by God as righteous because God sees Christ when he looks upon us, for His blood spilled at Calvary, has bathed our souls and cleansed us and made us into new people. Now that is not something that happens all at once, but when you come to Jesus Christ, confess your sin, and ask forgiveness, you receive that which is His. Cleansing by the Holy Spirit, and forgiveness of your sins. You have begun a journey toward complete spiritual wholeness. If you truly work to understand the truth, hunger and thirst for the righteousness of Christ in your life, you will then find that peace and joy in the Lord, and will one day receive that which you seek, or as the scripture says, “you will be filled.”

Our next beatitude is Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” What does this mean? What is it to be merciful, do you save an enemy instead of killing him on the battlefield? Do you offer alms to the poor, and maybe help someone you see in need? Is this the mercy the Lord is talking about? It is I believe even more than that, it is compassion toward others, it is caring for others before yourself. A number of years ago, I was on my way to a very important meeting and was running a bit late. I saw a man and his family on the side of the road, they had broken down in their RV and needed help. I was going too fast to stop, but knew I had to, so I got off at the next exit, turned across the highway and went back to where they were. I took the man into town and to a dealer so he could get the part he needed and then brought him back to the RV. I just knew that I was going to be late for the meeting but I also knew I had done the right thing.
I think also of Francis of Assisi who gave up his inheritance, to serve God, as well as Mother Theresa who did the same and worked for many years in the poorest areas of Calcutta to help the poor. These are the merciful, and these are those who are doing what they know that Jesus would do. They too have obtained the compassion of God upon themselves, and have shared that compassion with others.
Augustine had this to say in regard to the verse above:
Augustine: Hear what follows: “Blessed are the compassionate, for God will have compassion on them.” Do this, and it will be done to you. Do it in regard to another that it might be done in regard to you. For you may overflow yet remain in need. You may overflow with temporal things but remain in need of eternal life. You hear the voice of a beggar, but before God you are yourself a beggar. Someone is begging from you, while you yourself are begging. As you treat your beggar, so will God treat his. You who are empty are being filled. Out of your fullness fill an empty person in need, so that your own emptiness may be again filled by the fullness of God. Sermon 53.5.
The Church needs these type of folks, to lead the way to true living of the gospel so that all of us may follow the example of these and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Have mercy and you will receive mercy.

Next is Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” What a blessed promise this is, to see God face to face, all you need is a pure heart. That is a difficult task, that of having a pure heart, that having lived in Christ for such a long time as Paul, or as David that you can sense evil and avoid it like the plague. I am reminded of King David as he wrote in Psalm 51:7-10 NKJV “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (8) Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. (9) Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. (10) Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
There is also Stephen who was stoned to death for being a solid citizen of the Kingdom of God. In the book of Acts the 7th Chapter we find in verse 59 “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” and verse 60, Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”

Are you ready to act as these have acted, yes King David was not a perfect man, yet he was called a man after God’s own heart. He sinned, as do all of us who are finite beings, simply because we are men and women, not God, but we can be people after God’s own heart. Searching for God’s own heart, seeking to be as much as any of us can ever be, like Jesus for that is the way to God’s own heart. Yet the scriptures also tell us that you cannot see God and live, so how do we see God while still in our finite bodies? We see God in the realm of the Spirit, we meet with Him in our prayers and in our actions. When we leave this finite life, and begin the rest of our eternity, we then shall indeed see God, not partially but face to face.

What do you think of these things? As a Christian do you live in the manner that Christ has pointed out in these beatitudes? If not are you striving for these ways of living?

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