TO CHEW ON: "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
The seven verses at the beginning of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-10) are called the "Beatitudes." The word comes the Latin word beatitudo. So much for my fancy that beatitudes was a modern word grafted together from be and attitudes, i.e. attitudes worth assimilating into one's state of being. [Beatitudo means blessedness from beatus - happy.]
On looking over the beatitudes, it strikes me that at least four are states which we would not readily seek out.
- It's not trendy to be "'poor in spirit'" (Matthew 5:3)— "… those who recognize their spiritual poverty and, casting aside all self-sufficiency, seek God's grace" - Lyle Story, commentary on Matthew, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1296.
- Who wants to "'mourn'" (Matthew 5:4)? Though our commenter assures us this doesn't refer to being bereaved but to "… those who experience the sorrow of repentance" - Ibid.
- We readily equate "meek" with "weak (Matthew 5:5) though again our commenter disabuses us of that notion, defining "'meek'" as "…controlled strength. The word carries the idea of humility and self-discipline" - Ibid.
- Finally, do any of us relish the thought of persecution (Matthew 5:10)?
Our reading today reminds me again of how humanly unintuitive the Kingdom of Heaven is. Accustomed to operating in the natural we would hardly equate blessedness or a state of happiness with a majority of the beatitude qualities.
Two things come to mind:
1. We can't trust our instincts to pilot us to a place of God's blessing. Jesus said, "'My kingdom is not of this world.'" He said this as He stood meek before a puzzled Pilate. He went on to elaborate on his counterintuitive behaviour: "'If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here'" - John 18:36.
2. It's only as we familiarize ourselves with the Bible that we will know what Kingdom of Heaven principles are, and as we submit to them will experience the happy blessedness and that the beatitudes promise.
PRAYER: Dear God please help me to accept my own poverty of spirit. Please infuse me with a hunger and thirst for righteousness as I seek, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to incorporate these be-attitudes into my life. Amen.