In my church it was decided that in the season leading up to Christmas, known as Advent, we would study ‘the beatitudes’.
The Latin word for blessed is ‘beatus’ and in the gospel of Matthew chapter five we have an account of Jesus starting off His teaching with eight statements beginning with the word that can be translated ‘blessed’. We find that Jesus wasn’t teaching for the crowds, but for those who were committed to following Him.
Straightaway we had a problem understanding what Jesus meant by the word ‘blessed’. This must be why the Good News bible decided to use the more commonplace word, ‘happy’. The trouble is it doesn’t make sense to use the word ‘happy’ in this context. How can we be happy in the eight situations Jesus described? One of the leaders came up with his own interpretation which I really like. It was ‘God is with you’.
So the first thing Jesus said was ‘Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the kingdom of heaven belongs to them!(Matthew 5:3). We began to understand this must mean that, if we find we can’t make it on our own and are conscious of constantly failing to reach God’s standard, then He is with us to help us. Having the values of the Kingdom of God means we are different from non-believers. We try to do the things Jesus would do in our place and we rely on God and bring all that we struggle with to Him in prayer.
When I think about the opposite of being spiritually poor I remember the Pharisee in the temple who prayed to thank God that he wasn’t a bad sinner like the tax collector there in the temple with him (Luke 18:10-14). So it’s being self righteous and full of pride. It’s thinking you haven’t got anything to learn – that you’ve arrived.
Jesus said the tax collector went home that day from the temple with God’s blessing on his life. Why was that? Because he confessed all his sins and asked for mercy. He was serious about getting his life right with God. He knew he was spiritually poor. God really loves that kind of attitude.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, please help me to be fully relying on You and letting You be Lord of my life. Help me not to be complacent with my spiritual state and not to compare myself to the standards others have. Help me to have Your values – the values of the King of kings. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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