The Beatitudes – Josh Kiser
Scripture: Matthew 5:3-12 (NIV)
“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. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
After a little research, I learned that the word “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin beatitudo, meaning “blessedness.” The phrase “blessed are” in each of the beatitudes implies a current state of well-being. To the people in Jesus’ day, the expression would have held the powerful meaning of “divine joy and perfect happiness”. So, literally, each beatitude begins “Divinely happy and fortunate are”….
Now, As poetic and beautiful as the beatitudes read, I can surely tell you that the natural, human reaction to some of them does not line up with the way that Jesus closes each phrase. For example, do you feel “divine joy and perfect happiness” when you are being persecuted and feeling judged? When you feel as if you are “poor in spirit”, or lacking in your own ability and acknowledge the need for Godly help, do you feel divine joy? Do you have an overwhelming feeling of “perfect happiness” when you feel as if you are meek, or humble and submissive to something greater than you and your understanding? How difficult are those last to examples to live out in a culture and society where there is great importance placed on being strong, striving for independence, taking care of “me first”, achievements…. and on an on?
Some of the beatitudes are easy to understand how they can play out as Jesus describes. Especially when you are looking at them in the context of God as the facilitator of the resulting reward. For instance, it is readily acceptable to believe that those who are “pure in heart” will see God or that those who are “peacemakers” will be called children of God. It makes sense that God would comfort those who mourn, especially in the context of the sorrow we feel for our own sin. And, of course, God would be merciful to those who show mercy!
The challenge that sometimes arises, at least for me, is to take God’s entire word as truth and live it out accordingly. It’s easy to just take the things that we understand or can readily apply to our lives and call it our “faith”, hanging our spiritual hat on those things and those things alone. I believe that we sometimes do that as a church (meaning the body of Christian believers as a whole) as well. We can tend to focus on the things that are easy for others to understand and apply to “win them” and then never really focus on the “deep” or difficult things that God asks of us and calls us to do.
The challenge for all of us is to approach the difficult things in the same way that we do the easy things. Let’s pursue the things that we don’t quite understand so that we can experience ALL that God has for us. Speaking specifically to the beatitudes, let’s all try to understand to the fullest what it means to be “meek”, “poor in spirit”, “merciful” and “pure in heart” in the eyes of God. Let’s allow ourselves to be in a position to be “persecuted for our righteousness” without bailing when the going gets tough or it effects our social status or merit in the work place. Let’s hunger and thirst for a life that looks like what God has always intended for us so that we can be filled in a way that only He can fill.
Today, I challenge you to join me in an effort to take ALL of His word as truth, not just what we find easy to believe, accept or live out. Let’s dig deeper to find a greater understanding. Let’s no longer “skim read” the Word of God, taking away only the “usual suspects” of verses that even some unbelievers have heard. Putting an end to the act of glossing over the verses and commands that we have difficulty understanding will only grant us the opportunity to truly experience the fullness of God’s plan and allow us to feel “divine joy and perfect happiness”. Then, we all can say, “Blessed are we…”
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word. Give us the strength necessary to be honest with ourselves when we look in the mirror. Help us find the desire to do more than just live a life with the label of a ‘Christian’ and do what is necessary to dig deeper into what Your Word says that should look like. Help us see the commands, both easy and difficult, throughout the scriptures and reveal to us the importance of living out all of them; not just the convenient ones.
Father, we do know that we are blessed in so many ways. We acknowledge the many blessings that come with simply living in this country. But help us take a more proactive, rather than passive, approach to our faith. Help us have a desire to live out the life that you have called us to live. Thank you for Your love, Your passion and Your plan for us. We desire to do more, because it is required and You are deserving! In Your precious name, the mighty name of Jesus, Amen!