Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blessed are . . .

            “Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . those who mourn . . . the meek . . . those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . the merciful . . . the pure in heart . . . the peacemakers . . . those who are persecuted.”  (Matthew 5:3-10)

            These are those whom Jesus calls blessed.  But who do we call blessed?

            “Blessed are those rich with earthly treasure, who have all the things they could possibly want
            . . . those who are happy with this life, finding comfort and contentment in it
            . . . the bold, powerful, successful, and in-control
            . . . those who hunger and thirst for nothing because they are self-sufficient and satisfied in themselves
            . . . those who dish it out to the people who deserve it
            . . . those who are a little raunchy and not uptight about sin, immorality and all that
            . . . those who mind their own business and don’t make waves
            . . . those who let no one take advantage of them and who hold up “moral relativity” as the greatest measuring stick.”

            These are the kinds of people that we hold in high esteem.  Yet Jesus says the exact opposite.  After comparing lists, I have to say that we put more pressure on ourselves than Jesus puts on us. 
            Our list is about making things happen, getting all we can get, climbing to the top, fighting for our way, being in-control, taking care of ourselves, etc.   
            But Jesus’ list is about humility and gentleness.  It is about giving God control and leaning on Him. 

            Blessed are the poor in spirit – those who admit that they cannot meet all their needs.  They ache for more than earthly treasures and they know that they cannot fill the ache themselves.  In and of themselves, they are lacking.  They are broken.  They need salvation.  They need a Savior.  Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
            Blessed are those who mourn over their sins, over the condition of their hearts, over the condition of society, for the lost . . . those who are not celebrating the godlessness of this world but who grieve over it . . . those who do not find their happiness in this earthly life and temporary possessions but who find their joy in the Lord.  They will be comforted.
            Blessed are the meek – those who do not elevate themselves above others and who do not sit on God’s throne trying to rule over their own lives but who willingly bend a knee in humble submission to the Lord.  Those who live in the lowly, humble place at the foot of the Cross – overlooked by others, insignificant in the world’s eyes - will one day inherit the earth.   
            Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, not for success, money, power, possessions, earthly satisfaction, earthly fulfillment, and more of what this life offers . . . those who do not hunger for more of God’s gifts but for more of God Himself, who desire Him so much that they draw nearer and nearer to Him and seek to be more and more like Him . . . those who do not live self-sufficiently apart from God, satisfied with all their earthly treasures, and who are never satisfied enough in their pursuit of God that they grow lazy and comfortable in their pursuit of Him.  The more they seek what (Who!) truly matters, the more they will be filled.    
            Blessed are the merciful, who are always quick to forgive, who leave the right to punish and dish out ultimate justice in God’s hands, who pray for and show love to those who persecute them, who turn the other cheek, who look with compassion and a tender heart on all of God’s children, and who are representatives of God’s love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy.  They will be shown mercy when it is their turn to stand before the Lord.  
            Blessed are the pure in heart – those who do not let the world’s delights and idols pollute their homes, hearts, minds, and faith . . . those who do not tinker with and wink at sin, opening the door to evil and crowding out the Holy Spirit more and more. . . those who live with the one all-consuming, pure desire for more of God.  For while others might miss it, they will see God – in every blessing, every trial, every person, every new day, every sunset, every flower, every breath.
            Blessed are the peacemakers – those who sacrifice of themselves to help when help is needed . . . who are willing to make waves if it is necessary to fix what is broken . . . who seek to heal wounds, soothe hurting hearts, help the needy, bridge gaps, and make amends, instead of seeking only to make their own life more comfortable and enjoyable . . . who are not content to sit on the sidelines and watch people and relationships fall apart . . . who make it their mission to draw people to the One True Peace-giver. 
            It is not “blessed are the peacekeepers” – those who sweep problems under the rug, who appease people instead of doing the necessary confronting or challenging, who hide away when the going gets tough, who try to make sure everyone gets their way and is happy, and who hide the Truth and their real thoughts so that they never make a disturbance.  It is blessed are the peacemakers – those who do the hard thing that is needed to heal a broken situation, like Jesus did when He left heaven to die on the cross so that He could heal the broken relationship between man and God.  They will be called the sons of God.
            Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness – those who are persecuted for their faith, who never compromise or hide their faith for fear of persecution, who boldly stand for the Lord in a world that mocks Him and seeks to erase Him.  These are the true followers of Christ,  And theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
            In some ways, Jesus lightens the burden that we put on people and on ourselves.  We make it about strict rule-following and doing things just right and struggling to make it on our own.  But Jesus makes it about grace and leaning on Him and letting Him guide and provide.
              And yet, in some ways, Jesus makes it harder than we think it is.  Because we focus on external life-changes and actions, and Jesus focuses on internal heart-changes and attitudes and beliefs.  And we cannot have the kind of blessed life that God wants for us if we focus only on life changes.  It has to start at the heart.  It’s not about what we can do for ourselves or what we can make out of our life; it’s about what Jesus can do through us and with us when we humble ourselves before Him and let Him mold us.
            Blessed are those whose focus is letting Jesus change their hearts!  For even if they must sacrifice things in this lifetime in the pursuit of obedience, righteousness, and more of God, in the end they shall have gained all that truly matters.  They shall be blessed indeed!