Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Scratching the Surface
(A Brief and Incomplete Guide to the Beatitudes)
Healthy people want to be happy.
Jesus said anyone can be happy; and explained how in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12).
Robert Schuller referred to Matthew 5:1-12 as “The Be Happy Attitudes.”
People who ingest, digest, and enflesh these belief/behavior divine directives into their lives will overcome the meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance of life in the modern world.
Matthew 5:1-12 is our Lord’s guide to Sonny-Side-Up Living.
Jesus begins each beatitude by saying, “Blessed are…” Then He spells out how to be blessed.
The Greek transliteration of blessed is makarios and the Latin is beatitudo. Both mean “to be happy and fortunate.” Hence, an accurate translation is, “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are people who…[live like this]…”
1. “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are the poor in spirit, knowing their poverty apart from God, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs” (5:3). When we acknowledge our complete emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical dependence upon God, we are whole, happy, joyful, safe, and eternally secure. As David sang in Psalm 1, we are happy/fortunate/blessed when we wrap ourselves around God’s Word. Or as Jesus said, “Seek God first and foremost and God will take care of everything else” (see Matthew 6:25-34). BTW, people who dispute this divine directive have never done it!
2. “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are those who mourn their sins and don’t make excuses for them; for they will be comforted” (5:4). When we admit we have sinned – insulted God’s holiness and injured His people – we are comforted by the knowledge of being forgiven by God. Read Psalm 32 and 1 John 1.
3. “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (5:5). Meekness is not weakness. The Greek transliteration is praos and it means a humble disposition before God. John MacArthur wrote, “Meekness means to be finished with me for good. It is to say, ‘Thy not my will be done.’” Like 5:3, it’s knowing we need God. It’s Philippians 4:13 faith.
4. “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are those who hunger and thirst to be right with God. They will be satisfied” (5:6). He is saying we are happy/fortunate/blessed when we are desperate for Him, pray and labor to be close to Him, and take every opportunity to increase intimacy with Him; or as David taught us, “God inhabits the praises of His people” (Psalms 22). It’s like the experience of an immigrant man writing to his wife in Europe as recorded by Oscar Handlin in The Uprooted: “As a fish thirsts for water, so I thirst for you” (cf. Psalm 42). Jesus promised such hunger and thirst for God yields satisfaction. The Greek for “satisfied” means to feel like a contented cow grazing in the field and doing what cows do as designed by God. Or as Augustine confessed, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You, O God.”
5. “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are the merciful. They will receive mercy” (5:7). Here’s how RC Sproul commented on this Sonny-Side-Up-Be-Happy-Attitude: “Pray for mercy but don’t pray for justice because you may get it!” In short, want slack? Cut some! Want grace? Give some! Want forgiveness? Forgive! Read Matthew 6:12, 14-15; 7:1-6. It’s axiomatic. Forgiving=forgiven. Conversely, well, uh, we don’t want to go there!
6. “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are the pure In heart. They will see God” (5:8). How do you know God does not expect actual perfection from us? Because of Jesus! If we could be pure and perfect in every way on our own, Father God would not have come in Son Jesus to save/deliver us from our actual imperfections. To be pure in heart means we want to be actually perfect as we labor and pray to get better and more conforming to God’s will as personified in Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture. People who are attitudinally perfect see God. They feel like He “walks and talks” with them; and “the joy they share” is beyond compare. People who want to be close to God and pray and work on it are Sonny-Side-Up believers. God puts an irrepressible smile on their souls radiating from their faces. Lloyd comes to mind. Whenever we’d get together, he’d ask, “Bob, are you more in love with Jesus than the last time I saw you?” Whenever I answered yes, I felt closer to God. If not, not.
7. “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are peacemakers. They are kin to God” (5:9). Whether it’s the Hebrew shalom or Greek eirene, Biblical/real/lasting peace/harmony with others is the product of peace/harmony with God; or as the Imperials sang, “There will never be any peace until God is seated at the conference table.” Unless we move toward each other through Jesus with His mercy, grace, forgiveness, and agape, polemics will exceed peace/harmony. Through Jesus, we have more than a “fighting” chance. People who get closer to Jesus and act like it/Him are considered part of His family. It’s like we say on the corner of Lincoln and Main: “The answer to every question is Jesus!” Do you want peace/harmony in your world, country, community, church, school, job, family, marriage, and all of the below? You can have it! Just approach everyone through Jesus!
8. “How happy…how fortunate…how blessed are people who get into trouble and suffer because they love God. They are saved for sure and will go to heaven and live confidently between now and then” (5:10-12). Jesus was clear about what will happen to people who behave like they believe in Him: “If you follow Me, you will have to deny yourself and take up your cross…You will suffer if you follow Me…Yet if you follow Me, you will live confidently because you will live forever with Me in heaven…Everyone who endures suffering for loving Me by loving like Me will be saved!” (see Matthew 10, 16:24-28). If everybody likes you, you can’t be a Christian! Jesus said that! He said true believers are hated by the worldly and spiritually dark because true believers pray and work to bring mercy, grace, forgiveness, and agape into the world for everybody without respect to color, class, or culture. In other words, persecution is proof of being a Christian! So if everybody is speaking well of you and you’re not catching a little to lot of hell in your life, that means you may be no heaven good! It’s a choice. Catch hell now and go to heaven; or forfeit heaven and go to…
So if you want to be happy for the rest of your life and forever, become part of the Sonny-Side-Up Living movement.
Christianity by the book!
Blessings and Love!