September 6, 2014

Beatitude attitudes

Jesus’ sermon on a mountain began with what are called the Beatitudes. (Matthew 5:2–13)While many interpretations are offered, I see them as a progression in spiritual growth. At least, this is how they seem to appear in my own life.

Jesus first says the poor in spirit are blessed. My thoughts go to Isaiah 57:15 where God, who is high and lifted up and inhabits eternity and whose name is Holy declares, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

God has never blessed my pride or my ‘I’ll do it myself’ independent attitude. His blessing comes when I am broken, unable and weak, and humbled before Him. Believe it or not, true spirituality and blessing from God comes then, not when I’m patting myself on the back and congratulating myself for being righteous.

The second statement is similar to the first: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” While this has been used at funerals, it isn’t about that kind of death. It is about the sorrow and grief over my sin that brings me to my knees in contriteness of heart. It is about mourning my rebellion against God and about taking it to a graveside where it is put to death. Yet even in this state, God comforts me. I am where He wants me to be.

This poverty of spirit and mourning produce an attitude called meekness. Some liken it to a wild stallion that has been tamed, whose strength is still there but under control. However, my concordance says this: “Meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will.”[1]

Therefore, when Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” He is talking about the work of the Spirit to bring me to a place of no resistance to whatever happens, not because I’ve caved in but because I trust Him totally. At that point, all the resources in the world are available to me. He will supply everything I need!
Such meekness includes willingness to see that I am not the person I thought. Apart from Christ, I am a sinful, self-centered, self-seeking person. Because of meekness, I’m not only open to such a horrid revelation, but also filled with a desire for change. This is a “Blessed . . . hunger and thirst for righteousness” that comes with the promise that I “shall be satisfied.”

With that, the focus changes from selfish gain to a God-given attitude of mercy toward others, even others that I normally would have looked down my nose on, or shook my fist at. When He has worked in me a merciful heart, then I also “receive mercy” from Him and from others.

The next Beatitude is usually thought of as a future promise. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” in the sense that purity of heart now is an indication of eternal life and the promise of being with God after I die. However true that is, I’ve an additional experience and understanding . As God works in me, even as He is showing me the deepest needs of my heart, the hidden dark places and the garbage I’d not suspected, and as He forgives and cleanses, I see Him more clearly, especially in the lives of others who have undergone this same process. He shines through those who are trusting Him totally, to the point they are meek and transparent, without concern what others think of them. They  know that God holds them in His hand.

Sadly, not many Christians are like that, but those who are experience life with an attitude that is both attractive and misunderstood. Others might chalk it up to temperament, or are annoyed by it. This happens to me too, but God has taught me that if I feel that way and cannot see Him in the lives of His people, it could be they are blocking that revelation, but it is more likely that I’ve some impurity in my life that is blinding my heart’s vision of Him.

This is where I am. I’d like to be called a peacemaker “for they shall be called sons of God.” I’m not too eager to be one of “those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Or be blessed when “others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

But I do want to be the “salt of the earth” not salt that “has lost its taste.” If these verses describe a process, then I will not be surprised if God puts me into places where I need to be a peacemaker, nor will I be shocked if my life is making someone thirsty when they don’t want to be thirsty.

No matter what happens, He is teaching my heart to say, ‘Blessed by the name of the Lord, for my life is safe in His hands.’

[1] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2001).

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