|Posted on September 4, 2021 at 10:45 AM|
f you are someone like me who grew up in the church, you’re familiar with Jesus words as recorded in Matthew 5. We call these teachings the “Sermon on the Mount,” with some specific passages called the “Beatitudes.”
The word Beatitude comes from the Latin ‘beati,’ which translates to happy or fortunate. The word in Greek has largely the same meaning. What Jesus was teaching us is that we need to look beyond the current condition or circumstance of our lives and understand that we will always be blessed – even in hard times – because we know of the ultimate reward the Father is preparing for us.
In Matthew 5:3-10 we told “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 filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain 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.
But even while we know heaven is our ultimate destination, during troubled waters it’s hard to find the “blessing” part when thinking of mourning, or responding to a situation with meekness, or being hungry or persecuted. We all yearn for the blessing, but we want it without all the bother.
But along with the promise of our ultimate reward at the end of our lives is the implicit assurance that God has us on His mind and that He will always be fighting for us. We know that because He’s looking to a future time and place where we will live together and will have nothing but blessing and happiness.
Sadly, we can’t expect a perfect ‘heaven here on earth’ simply because we accept the gift of salvation. Our perfection cannot come while we’re in these flawed human bodies, and so we must struggle with the problems and heartbreaks of our existence. That will include loss, pain, illness and all the other conditions we are subject to in our “earthly tents,” as 2 Corinthians 5:1 describes us.
I’ve heard the Sermon on the Mount described as King Jesus’ inaugural address. He was declaring to His people the ethical and moral standards that are expected. The Jews of the day (not unlike us today), were so flesh-focused that they thought the bar was being set too high. They were all about the old laws of “thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, lie….” But to change their very responses to a cruel and oppressive world – that was simply asking too much. Jesus was saying ‘shift your focus from the religious and let’s start working on relationship.’ Not just with God – but with each other.
Jesus never once said it would be easy. But He gave us these standards realizing that He would be leaving us with the Holy Spirit to guide, comfort and teach us as we journey (struggle) here in this very broken world. The word for that day – and for this – is that if we change how our hearts and attitudes respond to our situations, blessing will be the result.
And even more importantly, Jesus taught that we are chartered with the responsibility to bring everyone else into this protected family circle. He explains why our very attitudes and responses are critical. In Verse 13 Jesus says “you are the salt of the earth.” In other words, you are the life-giving sustaining substance that everyone around you needs.
So while we may not look at our trouble and suffering as a good thing, without that testing of our faith and endurance how can we really speak with any authority on goodness and provision of God? And when I say testing, I don’t mean that God is testing us so much as our situations give us an opportunity to reinforce and recognize His faithfulness. So maybe the better word would be proving. Our situations prove His love. Now that makes the beatitudes take on a whole new meaning.
Jesus tells us in Acts 1:7-8 “it is not for us to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive the power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you…” So when you’re feeling tested, remember that life isn’t about a grade for this response or that. We have guidelines and we have help – and we are not fighting through on our own. The Holy Spirit has been left with us here to comfort and guide through the pain of our human condition. And despite the trouble, we are surely loved.
Be blessed my friend, God is on the throne!