What Attitudes Does God Bless?
5 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus is God’s Word to us. He is full of grace and truth! The Sermon on the Mount is the Apostle Matthew’s organized account of what and how Jesus taught. I think we should think of it as the information that Jesus shared that is typical. So, in this section of Scripture we have the most compact section of truth that has ever been shared from God to man. We should listen carefully.
Jesus talks about blessing. Blessing is what God does that creates the good life. Jesus came so that we might live the best life possible, the abundant life. And so here we go. Jesus lists 8 characteristics, one twice, that show, attract, produce, however you want to say it, the blessing of God! The first three we will cover today.
- Blessed are the Poor in Spirit
- Spiritual humility is key to knowing God
- God is creator of all
- All of creation is originally good
- Sin is the source of darkness, emptiness and pointlessness.
- Poor in spirit means I need help understanding and doing God’s will.
- This is personal and is about you.
- We must die to know resurrection
Contrast with the attitude of the Pharisees.
John 8: 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[b] to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
Phil 3: 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
- Seek God with some persistence
- There will be things in life that you do not understand. Read the book of Job. Job’s friends arguments seem reasonable, and yet God says they do not speak of Him what is true.
Job 2: 3 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”
Why does Job maintain his integrity when his life has fallen apart? Because he knows God and the value of serving the God whom he cannot see. And why does God communicate with Job so clearly at the end of the book?
And how does God answer Job’s questions? He does not. He points out what is basic and fundamental: He is the only creator. He is the only source of what is good. Etc. If we abandon those presuppositions because of what we don’t understand and don’t like, regardless of how terrible our circumstances are, then we embrace death instead of life.
God is able to give life in the midst of rape, murder, betrayal, rejection etc. And these are things that people in our midst have experienced!! But life only comes to those who are poor in spirit.
- The poor in spirit find the kingdom of heaven
- They find the true source of life. They are ruled by God.
- They are filled with the Holy Spirit. Just ask and then be humble enough to follow!
- They find the joy of truth, freedom and obedience!
- God wants you to know purpose in your marriage, home, work, friends, etc.
- Blessed are Those Who Mourn
- We are not made for mourning
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
- There are people mourning in Jesus’ midst
Blessed are those who mourn. There is blessing even for those that mourn. There are blessings for you when you mourn. “The fellowship of His sufferings.” Psychologists tell us that shared suffering produces bonding. We suffer because of the impact of sin.
Romans 8 speaks about suffering very eloquently:
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
We are bonded to others here. We are bonded to Christ. We are bonded to all of creation. We share a common hope and we rejoice. We are co-heirs with Christ. We wait patiently for the redemption of our bodies. And it is coming! Resurrection is the powerful force, not sin! God gives life! And He gives it even to those who mourn.
- Those who mourn are comforted
There is a resolution to all of our suffering. Whether it is just or unjust it does not matter. If we are a part of the kingdom of God, then even in our mourning, we are blessed. For we will receive the comfort of God from God!!! Job is not an outlier!! God touches the mournful heart. He does not keep us from pain, neither does He keep us from life, and in the midst of it all we know that which is really worth knowing. We know God. And just like with Job we can say:
1 Then Job answered the Lord and said:
2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
III. Blessed are the Meek
- This means submissive toward God
Joseph wrestled with God for a blessing. The blessing came in the form of an injury. When broken physically he was dependent upon what God would allow to happen. In fact, this was always the case. What is God’s will? Is it the same as our will?
Matt 11: 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Our world seeks to find life in the stirring up of the soul, we stir up desire and then we meet the desire and are satisfied. But the satisfaction does not last. Mick Jagger warns us that even in great success and great pleasure and great riches, he could not find satisfaction. He is not broken, he is wise to see this.
Desire for success is translated to sports. Desire to acquire relates to our possessions, clothes, house, car, job etc. The approach of comparison to others ends in a never ending pursuit of something else, and the process guarantees another turn of dis-satisfaction.
Is there another way? Yes. We can have our hearts trained to seek the will of God. We can learn to submit to the will and plans of God for our lives, to seek meekness as a source of peace. We can take Jesus’ yoke on us. Thinking about Jesus in the Garden: He was full of desire. He sweat drops of blood. He despised the shame He was to endure from sinful man. He would be given over to the terrible control of evil and sadistic men. And He would experience the just payment for their sin.
And what does Jesus say? If there is another way, please can we take that. Nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done. That is meekness.
When we are meek, we turn away from the world’s way of finding pleasure and life, and it seems like we are giving up forever on “a good life”. And yet what Jesus says is
- The meek inherit the earth
By aiming our lives at following Jesus Christ, we learn from Him how to have abundant life. Hitting the lottery loses its flavor. Finding God’s plans and purposes for our lives brings us to the place where we know what Jesus means when He tells us that He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. We find Jesus to be our way to God, our way to truth and our way to life. We find Jesus to be the truth about the way to God and the truth about how to have life. And we find Jesus to be our very life. He gives us life, and that more abundantly! He gives us the blessed life!