We should take several different baths each week. The obvious one is a bath for the outer body. A not so obvious bath is one for the inner body, by drinking an appropriate amount of clean water, rather than polluting our bodies with too much junk. Another not so obvious bath is for the mind, by focusing on good thinking and creative ideas instead of dullness of mind. And that brings me to the most important bath of all.
Let’s learn that focusing on God’s thoughts which are far above ours, good instead of evil, things above instead of things below, is like a bath for the soul. The best bath of all is bathing in the words of Jesus.
Let’s discuss four blessings and four sorrows from Luke 6:20-31.
Luke 6:20 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. 21 God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. 22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.
24 “What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. 25 What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow. 26 What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets.
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Happiness and Sorrow
Happiness awaits the poor. Sorrow awaits the rich. Happiness awaits the hungry. Sorrow awaits the prosperous. Happiness awaits the weeping. Sorrow awaits the laughing. Happiness awaits the hated who follow Jesus. Sorrow awaits the praised. There are two kinds of laughter, hardhearted and heavenly. Even the weeping of the callous and uncaring can bring true happiness through their own suffering.
1. Blessings of poverty
Why are the poor blessed? They appreciate small blessings, are more environmentally friendly, empathize with suffering, more generous, more moral, know they need a Savior, depend on God, have no exaggerated sense of self-importance, cooperate rather than compete, know necessities from luxuries, learn patience, can survive great suffering, recognize the good news and respond unafraid because they have nothing to lose.
2. Blessings of hunger
Hunger is caused by selfish politics and greed. Why are the hungry blessed? Fasting makes food taste better. The rich man may be dying due to poverty of diet, the unhealthy ingredients of a rich diet, something even the ancients knew (Daniel 1:1-16). Even good food does not satisfy. There is a hunger that only Jesus can truly satisfy.
3. Blessing of weeping
Why is weeping a blessing? According to some medical experts, crying aloud is not only good physically in that it cleanses the body of certain toxins produced by stress, it also helps us bring negative emotions to the fore so that they can be addressed. Mourning is good. When expressed through tears it produces longer lasting positive benefits, including true happiness.
4. Blessing of being hated
We all experience hatred at times. Today, politicians are hated. Why would anyone want to be a politician? Jesus encouraged those expelled from the Jewish community, because of him. Christianity was once a Jewish religion. Christians are still excluded, insulted and rejected. Yet, they are in the good company of the ancient prophets and will be greatly rewarded in heaven.
Saint means special to God, and that includes millions of people who are poor, hungry, weeping or hated. Being rich, fat, funny or popular does not automatically make people saints. Some of the greatest saints are unknown. So next time you see a poor, hungry, crying or hated person take a second look. You may be speaking to a saint.
1. Woe of wealth
Why does worldly wealth caused woe? It is a great temptation to be selfish and callous. Jesus chose poverty. Most rich people would not choose poverty. Wealth hardens hearts. Why do the wealthy oppose government programs to help the poor and demand budget cuts in welfare and oppose increases in taxes on the rich? Surely selfishness is a strong reason.
2. Woe of full bellies
In Europe and America we are well fed, but sick in body and spirit. Poor countries cannot afford to pollute their food with all the junk that we do. Jesus said woe to the full. Those who eat well now may end up empty on judgment day, because of the callous hearts that go along with wealth and full bellies.
3. Woe of laughter
Why did Jesus say woe to those who laugh now? Notice he said laugh “now.” Greed is a fashion statement. Laughter can reveal an attitude of not caring about the suffering. Being thrilled about the things of this world, fashions, popularity, money and partying can reveal a calloused heart. Jesus warned about the fate of those with hard, uncaring hearts.
4. Woe of popularity
Flattery can be a deadly trap. Pastors often joke that if everyone likes us we must be doing something wrong. Jesus made people angry. Elijah was not very popular. The priests of Ba’al (1 Kings 18) were far more popular. A lonely Elijah confronted 450 priests of Ba’al. On judgment day only one reputation will matter, being popular with God.
God’s thoughts are so far above ours and the culture which permeates our daily thoughts. Let us take a cleansing bath for our souls and learn to view the world as God does.