Jesus has come to the end of His message and the people are astonished! Jesus taught with such authority and understanding. This was so different than how they were used to being taught. I wonder how they were used to being taught. I wonder what they were thinking as they left the mountain that day. Did they talk about what they had heard? How many people stayed for the full message? How many people decided to follow Jesus after that message? Did any of his close disciples come from this mountain top group?
I noticed something while we were on the mountain top that I would like to share with you. I have been thinking about this for over a week and was waiting until there was a break in the action to share it with you.
Last Saturday I started off writing about how Jesus had opened His message. He started out sharing all the blessings that were available to His followers. We call them the Beatitudes. They are the blessings for the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry and thirsty for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness sake.
Then I noticed that the sections we had been discussing actually were telling us how to live up to those standards. What areas of our life to work on. There are going to be some of the lessons that fit more than one category too. I know I don’t have everything ironed out and exact but I believe our Lord was showing this to me. Here is what I came up with so far. I want to list the blessings in the order Jesus did.
- Poor in spirit: This is displayed when we know Who to come to for our needs, because we recognize there is no good thing in us. When we ask Him to be the ruler of our lives. When we seek Him and His will for our lives. When we knock on His door and answer the knock on our hearts door. In the Lord’s prayer, we are told to recognize that even God’s name is hallowed, or holy. YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done. God’s plans are far greater than mans. Also in Jesus last four warnings, we see the eternal contrast between those who rely on their own ideas or ideology for salvation compared to those who recognize their need for Jesus and turn their lives over to Him.
- Those who mourn: The last four warnings, if not heeded will cause eternal mourning. To have approached the gates of Heaven thinking you have everything under control, and then to be told by Jesus, “I never knew you.” The great fall of one’s house (life) because of your own foundational choices. To pass through that wide gate after walking the easy path and come face to face with the reality of the HARD path that never ends. And to be so proud of your own fruit that you don’t see the disease in you and your fruit until you are plucked up and cast into the fire. THAT is cause for mourning. Knowing that you have nothing good in you. Recognizing this earlier in life and dealing with the mourning brings you to Jesus. Don’t wait too long! The consequences are eternal!
- The meek: I’m expanding our definition a little to include the terms gentle and kind. Dictionary.com provided these for me. Kindness will have me treating others as I want to be treated. It will also keep me from retaliating against those who have wronged me. I will turn the other cheek. The earlier definition of power under control will keep us from exploiting others in business dealings, as in oaths. We will keep our word in practice, providing those we enter into negotiations with assurance by our lifestyle that we will honor our relationship and perform what we have agreed to. No need for excessive binding verbiage; our word is our bond.
- Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: We all hunger after something. We are created with a God shaped hole in us that only He can fill. Those who are lusting after something or someone are trying to fill that space with things of the world. Jesus’ teachings on fasting deal with physical hunger that is specifically undertaken to focus us on seeking spiritual filling. When Jesus instructed us to pray, He said to ask for our daily bread from God. This is not only physical but spiritual bread. Provision for our daily needs as well as growth in His word. By being anxious we are not recognizing where our sours of supply, spiritually and physically comes from. He supplies all our needs. When we trust Him enough to lay our treasures in Heaven, we are seeking His reward of relationship over earthly wealth. The rich relationship with God is worth more than all the gold King Solomon ever had.
- The merciful: Being merciful usually starts with recognizing our own need for mercy. When we ask God to forgive us of our debts. Jesus’ instructions concerning divorce require the couple to exercise mercy towards one another. Without that quality, all marriages would end in disaster. We are also instructed to show mercy when giving to the needy, when tempted to seek revenge for wrongs done to us, when making judgements regarding others, and when dealing with our enemies. All these actions require a heart that understands that mercy is shown to us every day and that because of that mercy we can be merciful to our fellow man. In fact, if we don’t He won’t either.
- The pure in heart: To become pure in heart we WILL go through refining. None of us get there on our own. During this ongoing process asking, seeking, and knocking are crucial. Asking God to lead us to do His will and not into temptation. Although sometimes walking through temptations or trials brings us more growth than going around would. Seeking God and His will in the middle of any situation we find ourselves is keeps us in right relationship with Him. Knocking on Heaven’s door for our physical needs and spiritual growth in prayer binds our hearts to Him. We are purified in His presence. Anger is melted away in this process. Love is its replacement. Because of His purifying process we are to be light and salt to the hurting world. It is not to be us they see but Him through me. That is His purity shining out our eyes, tenderly loving the lost right into His arms.
- The peacemakers: Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. He reconciled us to Himself. He chose a relationship over everything else. He didn’t ignore our sins but washed them clean with His blood. We don’t have to give our blood as a peacemaker but we have to value the flesh and blood relationships over the physical issues. When we choose to forgive others. When we choose not to seek retaliation for wrongs done to us. When we love our enemies. When we choose to love our spouse, even during the hard times. When we practice Jesus’ command to treat others as we want to be treated, we are living His “golden rule.”
- Those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: Deliver us from evil is the cry of everyone being persecuted. Enduring what is being thrown at you because of your life with Jesus is hard! You can’t do it alone. Jesus showed by example how to behave when your enemies are your enemies because of your faith. He said to love them. He demonstrated how to stand against them with the truth and love. He never displayed hatred towards any of them, in spite of how they treated Him. He became angry at their behaviors and addressed those directly. He called them on their repeated behavior, but still loved them through it all. He went beyond loving them in spite of their behavior to asking God not to hold their behavior against them in His dying moments. Those who persecute us may never accept us or Jesus, but God sees our desire to serve Him and honors it with His blessings. I would rather be cursed by man and blessed by God that to be praised by man and separated from God.
Father God, thank You for opening my eyes to some of Your deeper ideas. Thank You for showing me how to get closer to You in my daily life. I want Your blessings. The most important blessing I want is a relationship with You. Teach me daily how to move towards Your standards. Forgive me for every time I fail. I know it is and will be often. I apologize for that too. I love You and want to make You proud of me. I don’t want to become prideful but to be so committed to our relationship that You say, “That’s my girl! I knew I could trust you to do what I told you to do. Look what I am going to do with you next. Are you ready?” Lord I’m ready, help me become ready.