Monday, February 18, 2013


Before we get further into the beatitudes section of Jesus’ sermon, let’s take a look at the word “blessed.”  Hopefully you’ll understand it better – and want it more – after you read this.  If you have comments or questions, please post them!

Most teachers say that the word “blessed” means ‘happy.’  This is not quite accurate.  It might be easier to use words like ‘lucky’ or ‘fortunate,’ but they’re not good either because they imply random chance.  Still, the feeling we seek (the state of being blessed) is like the feeling of being fortunate.  We might, for instance, say a person is blessed if he has a job.  Even if the job stinks, at least the person is working, paying taxes and being helpful to his family and culture at large. 

One of the best descriptions I found is: “People who are blessed may outwardly be much to be pitied, but from the higher and therefore truer standpoint they are to be envied, congratulated, and imitated.”  (From Weymouth’s New Testament)  Pay attention to this definition, because it’ll help you understand all the beatitudes.  These people (Poor in Spirit, mourn, persecuted, peacemakers, etc.) are to be envied, congratulated and imitated.  If you remember this, you’ll do a better job in your middle column where you paraphrase the blessing. 

We call this section of the SOM “Beatitudes,” because the Latin word for blessing is beatus.  This is important, because this section is all about being blessed.  The question is … do you want to be blessed?  Do you trust Jesus that these things really are blessings?  Do you? 

Most people don’t want these things for themselves.  They don’t want to be “poor” in anything – certainly not in spirit.  We avoid mourning, hunger and thirst, and we absolutely loathe the thought of being persecuted and lied about.  But Jesus is telling us here that those who suffer this way are blessed!  Most of us (certainly us Americans) believe in “the pursuit of happiness,” not suffering, struggle or challenges.  We want people to like us – to be popular and “cool.”  But Jesus (our model) was despised:
He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we did not esteem him. Isaiah 53:3

What Do You Truly Believe?

It comes down to faith – to what you truly believe, deep down.  Way down deep: where belief becomes faith and faith becomes trust … you have to ask yourself whether or not you will trust Jesus and take him at his word - even if it’s the opposite of what your natural self wants.  If you really believe Jesus, then you’ll pursue these distasteful blessings.  

Whatever you really believe about this will be reflected in your life and actions, not by what you say.  If you say you are a Christian but don't DO what Jesus said to do, then your faith is showing, and others can see that you're living a lie, a scam.  You are a poser.  (Matthew 7.21-23)   

I advise you to pause for a moment and pray now.  Ask God to give you insight into this. 


I’ll finish this article on blessing by showing you two passages from the New Testament that show us what Jesus means when talking about being blessed.  The first is Paul’s description of his work to the elders in a church where he was the preacher.  He shows by his life that he could do without physical blessings like nice clothes and wealth and instead was a hard worker, always there to “help the weak.”  This kind of work, focus and sacrifice is Paul’s third column response to Jesus saying that it’s more blessed to give.  Paul was giving because he believed Jesus, and wanted them (and us) to do likewise.  If you believe as Paul did, you’ll come to understand this, too. The question is ... do you really believe it's better to love ... than to be loved? 
“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes.  You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my needs and to the men who were with me.  In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that he himself said, ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive.’  Acts 20:33-35

The second is about not quitting – keep going, even when you desperately want to quit, because this person who sucks it up and works hard for God is blessed. 
Blessed is a man who perseveres [hupomeno] under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  James 1:12
If you study these two, perhaps even take a friend along and three-column these two passages, you’ll soon have a much deeper understanding of the word “bless” – and – you’ll be growing into a much stronger servant of God.

Now before you proceed, make sure you spend some time in prayer with our Father and count the cost.  The blessings of God are the best things in the world, and to be pursued - no matter the cost, because they're worth it.  But if you're not willing to pay the price, you will soon be disappointed.  Dig deep. Taste and see that the Lord is good.  


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