Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country, and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.' So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate. - Luke 15:11-24
This past week I learned a lot in my Bible study. We discussed and talked about the beatitudes. I used to think these blessings were bestowed on those who strove to do things that would bring about those blessings. Boy was I wrong.
What I learned is what I want to share with you. I’ll make this topic into two blog posts because it’s so rich. And because there are two things I learned about the beatitudes. The first is that it isn’t a list of “doings,” but it’s a list of “being.” What I mean is, that there are no actions you can take to obtain these blessings. The second thing I learned is that these eight beatitudes are a breakdown of the two greatest commandments; love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.
In this post, I want to share with you the first four beatitudes… Specifically, how they relate to loving the Lord our God and how they are a root to our character.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
I’ll be honest, the first time I ever read this verse, I was confused. I thought that it was telling me, as funny as it sounds, to be down and sadly most of the time. Like, I thought I had to go and react to everything as a pessimist. But that’s not what it was saying at all.
What does it mean to be poor? It means you’re without, right? That you’re lacking and in need. So, to be poor in spirit means you know you’re lacking. You know that you by yourself aren’t enough. You need God. It’s a state of spiritual neediness. We need God every day. We want and need more of Him every single day.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
We normally mourn those we have lost, don’t we? It’s why this verse is so commonly used for funerals. But that’s not what this verse is talking about. Even though we will be comforted amongst loss.
Let me ask you something. How do you react to the sin you’ve committed? Do you just shrug it off and think, “I’ll do better next time”? Because this verse is about sin, you know. If we don’t grieve about the sinful things we’ve done, true repentance won’t come. If we don’t truly repent, how can God ever be first in our lives? How can he ever reach out his loving arms and comfort us, breaking those chains that bind us?
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
Who are those that you see standing “on top of the world”? Who are the ones “making it” in life? It’s not the “meek,” is it? And what’s the most common definition of meek? Meek is weak. At least, that’s the worldly view, right? But that’s not correct.
Meek is not weak. Do you know what meek is? Meek is putting another’s wants and needs ahead of your own. In this case, it’s putting God’s wants ahead of yours. God’s will be done! When you start putting God before yourself, it’ll start seeping into your everyday life.
Tell me, all those people you cherish and remember… All those that impacted your life for the better, even if it was for a second, were they the selfish, out for themselves, people? Most likely not. They were the meek. The meek are those who’ve truly inherited the earth… Because they are the ones that make it better.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
What is Righteousness? It is acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin. Did you know there is someone who is our righteousness? Can you guess who it is? 1 Corinthians 1:30 states, “It is because of him (God) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Personally, to help me connect with and understand Matthew 5:6 a bit better, I replace the word “righteousness” with “Christ Jesus.”
Now, let’s be real. There are many things we hunger and thirst for. For me, I am being vulnerable here, I crave intimacy. I crave familiarity, friendships, closeness, quality time, and everything else intimacy is and stands for. I crave materialistic things as well, like books and CDs. Don’t I have these things? Of curse I do. I have a loving family and books galore. But that’s the thing. These other things I crave just don’t fill me up. I am always lacking; in that, I just want more. Of course, at the moment these things do feel like they fill me up, but they don’t.
This is not the case with righteousness, with Christ Jesus. Every day we should wake up craving him, and throughout the day be filled by him. Think about the woman at the well here. Jesus Christ offers lasting water. He offers lasting satisfaction. He should be the only thing we truly crave because he is never fleeting.
I hope you can see and understand a little bit better now why I started this post with the scripture for the prodigal son. We are this son. This son took the money and ran. He lived up his life bound by the chains of sin. However, he became poor and needy, realizing he can’t make it on his own. He became hungry and thirsty, craving his father and what his father has to offer. He began to mourn what he had done, not feeling worthy because of his sins. He put his father’s will ahead of his own, he went to the father, and he returned to him. The son returned, willing to accept however his father would treat him, hoping for what he thought was the best his father would offer… slavery. But even if that is what he was going to face upon returning, he still returned. We are the prodigal son. No, the beatitudes are not a list of doings, they are a list of becoming.
These first four beatitudes are what our characters take root in. Next week I will share with you the last four beatitudes, and the fruit that is produced.