Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. - Matthew 5: 1-12 (ESV)
The word beatitude means "blessed." The Greek word blessed means "spiritual well being and prosperity." God always has a terrific sense of humor. What I mean by that is He uses the simple to confound the wise. He uses the ordinary to confound what we think is extraordinary. When the Bible exclaims that His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours we have no idea how much higher. God sees all time beloved. He sees the beginning and the end. He knows exactly what we get hung up on. He sees what blocks us. What we idolize. What separates us from Him. Thus I find it no small coincidence that the first time we see Him ministering, He addresses a topic that He knows will be so dear to us and so dearly manipulated by us. He could have discussed anything to start but He decides to start His ministry explaining what it actually means to be blessed. What it means according to God to have spiritual well being and prosperity. Not prosperity the way the hucksters of today preach it. Seven steps to a better you. Discover the champion in you. You, you, you. No beloved. That is not God's way at all. Until we have a "Beatitude adjustment"; we will keep getting it wrong when it comes to what being blessed really is.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those who are truly well in their spirit and prosperous are poor in their spirit. This spiritual poverty is not as difficult to understand than we might think. This refers to what esteem we hold ourselves in view of Christ and His work. This refers to our true position in Jesus, which is should be a lowly position. We ought to be humble in our own eyes. Why? Because that is when Jesus is magnified.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2Corinthians 12: 10 (ESV)
The weakest point we can reach is the realization that we need a Savior. That it is no longer about us. That it is only about Him. Now think for a second about what is preached today. Prosperity Gospel makes an idol out of gaining material stature. Word Faith heresy elevates us to little god status. Hyper-grace makes a mockery of what God has said. False signs and lying wonders teachings emphasize the personal experience over doctrine. What do these all have in common? They elevate YOU. They do not elevate God. They do not promote spiritual poverty. I doubt that any seeker friendly, purpose driven pastor would ever preach on spiritual poverty. What is the promise for the spiritually poor? Theirs is the kingdom of heaven! Do not miss this point beloved. We have swaths of congregations today that are taught and celebrate gospels of YOU. I would be very wary. I write often about the increase in false conversions and this verse lends directly to that concern. Our salvation is supposed to be about Jesus Christ, not ourselves. We are supposed to go to church for God, not ourselves. When Paul referred to himself it was as the chief of sinners. Peter demanded to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die as his Savior did. Today we see more and more spiritual bravado than poverty. Christians sticking their chest out declaring who they think they are in Christ. I am the head and not the tail. I am a friend of God. I am the beez-nees. No beloved. I am a sinner saved by the unbelievable grace of God. I have seen and heard pastors preach against such talk and to them I warn - read Matthew 5:3 very closely. The first beatitude is about our humility. The first indication of being well spiritually is to be spiritually poor. Lastly on this opening Beatitude; what does this say about true prosperity? It is only found in Christ. It is only manifest when He is magnified. Remember the words of John the Baptist:
Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness--look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him." John answered, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.' The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease." - John 3: 25-30 (ESV)
This is what we miss in today's pulpits. Instead of decreasing, we are taught to increase. The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who decrease so that Jesus may increase. People do not need my wisdom - they need His. I cannot save anyone - only He can. It is not about me - it is always about Him.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. This verse is not what it seems beloved. It is not a simple pronouncement of comfort for those who are sad. Yes, God is always our source of comfort but that is not the primary teaching here because the issue is not merely mourning, but what are we mourning over? The answer, much to the chagrin of Joseph Prince followers, is sin. This goes hand in hand with humble spiritual poverty. Blessed are those who mourn over their sinful state. Why? Because only then do we place Christ where He belongs in our lives. Do you think it is coincidence that one of the most Satanic teachings poisoning the church today tells believers to no longer worry about their sin? It is godly sorrow that works repentance. Hyper-grace advocates almost relegate grace to an event instead of an ongoing well from which we are to refresh ourselves! Those that mourn over their sin are more dependent than ever upon the mercies and grace of God. Great is thy faithfulness! Thy mercies are new each day!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." - Lamentations 3: 22-24 (ESV)
Far too many in the church today have the Lord as their portion on Sundays but not so much on Wednesday. There is no comfort in that Christianity beloved. There is no blessing in denying our sinful state. When we live in that denial then God is diminished as a result. I am so saddened when I hear Christians belittle this position as being "sin focused." The reality is you cannot be Savior focused if you are not sin focused. It is the remembering of our sinful state that glorifies and magnifies who Jesus is in our lives. Not trite sayings and catchy slogans but real comfort. We are blessed and prosperous to mourn over our sin because God is always there to comfort us and forgive us.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. - 1John 1: 7-10 (ESV)
This letter was written to believers. This is not speaking about the unsaved. Our sinful state is forgiven eternally but we remain such temporally. So many struggle in this walk because they are still holding the pen instead of the Author and Finisher of their Faith. Because we refuse to deal with and mourn over our sin, so that we might accept the comfort from our loving Father.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Once again we see the chasm between how man thinks and how God thinks. Our society encourages and rewards brashness. Boldness. Some of the most popular movies are revenge centered and the one seeking revenge is usually cast as the hero. We see this confrontational mindset infect the church today as well. We saw it recently with the decisions by business owners to not sell their products to gay consumers. I am not going to rehash this here except to point out the inherent un-meekness of such a stance. What is meekness? Let's see what the Matthew Henry Commentary says:
"The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else. These meek ones are happy, even in this world. Meekness promotes wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world."
I love the emphasis of "even in this world." There is so much of this world in the church today. So much of its brazen carnality wrapped up in pseudo-piety. It seems when a Christian in this country is insulted the first thing they cry is persecution and the second thing they cry is lawsuit. Not exactly the meek of the earth. There were no soft answers in the case of the Oregon baker or the Washington florist. We are not called to turn this country into a theocracy. When was the last time you saw Christians bear insult? Believe me, I am not suggesting any of these things have I mastered either. We lose our minds it seems when anything comes against us. We puff out our chest in self righteousness and when someone points out the unbiblical nature of it all we are quick to point them to when Jesus overturned the tables, as if that was a relevant theological point. We do not keep our patience. We scarcely keep our souls. We lose our witness far too easily and far too often. That is not meekness and not how we are to behave towards the unsaved.