Summary: Beatitudes mean declarations of blessedness. If we were asked to describe what it means to be blessed our answers probably would not be what we find here in this list. Jesus’ is about to give us a new understanding about what brings blessedness.
“The Be-Attitudes” (Part One)
Beatitudes mean declarations of blessedness. The term blessed is all throughout the bible-220 times in the NIV. The term is used in the first chapter of the bible and the last chapter of the bible. The word blessed in the Greek does have a connection to the word “happy” but it is not understood to be the happiness that one would feel from circumstances or the pleasure derived from anything worldly. The term blessedness means joy. Therefore, the state of blessedness would be a state of joy, which is more than just happy, since happiness is dependent on circumstances. Blessedness refers to the ultimate well being and distinctive spiritual joy of those who are saved. Blessedness is better than happiness because happiness comes from things in the world and blessings come from God. Happiness is temporary while blessedness is eternal. In all the nine beatitudes we see a declaration of blessedness followed with the reason why. Blessed are the…for they...
One would look at this list of what brings blessedness and probably be confused because if we were asked ‘what does it mean to be blessed’, our answers would not be what we find here in this list. But as we so often see in the bible, our way of thinking contrasts God’s way. And there’s the struggle we face-conforming our way of thinking to God’s; being transformed by the renewing of our mind as Rom. 12:2. In the beatitudes we gain a new understanding as to what brings blessedness. Jesus’ first recorded sermon is about how we can be blessed. He starts out with hard to hear, unconventional principles that would blow out of the water the people’s ideas of what blessedness is all about. Let’s look at the beatitudes to find out what our attitude should be.
1) Blessed are the poor in spirit (vs. 3). The term poor in spirit is deceiving. It would make me think it something undesirable. Who wants to be poor in anything? But being poor in spirit is a good thing. Why? Because it means I’m someone who has recognized my own spiritual poverty and wretchedness. I have recognized that I am a sinner. I have seen myself for who I am rather than being prideful, vain or stuck in denial about my true spiritual condition. Isa. 57:15, “For this is what the high and lofty One says—he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” God, the high and lofty one is not with those who think of themselves as high and lofty but rather he is with those who recognize that they are far from God. Being poor in spirit represents humility. And without humility we won’t see the kingdom of God. This is why the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are poor in spirit. James 2:5, “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” Being poor in spirit does not mean I remain spiritually poor. James 2:5 talks about being rich in faith. I may have been spiritually poor in the beginning but there’s no blessing in remaining that way. God wants to revive my spirit and revive my heart. He wants me to be rich in faith. Later Jesus says blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled. This is being spiritually rich. Being poor in spirit means I recognize my great need for Jesus. If I’m poor in spirit I have recognized that I am undeserving of God’s favor. In this we don’t make demands of God or have selfish expectations but rather we are appreciative and grateful for everything he has given us. “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. Interestingly, according to Robertson’s NT word pictures: "The kingdom of heaven" here means the reign of God in the heart and life.” If I am poor in spirit I will be willing to allow God to reign in my heart and it will show in my life. In this we see the great reward-we are taken from our lowly position and lifted to a higher one. Jesus said whoever humbles himself will be exalted. When I recognize my poor condition Jesus makes me rich.
2) Blessed are those who mourn (vs. 4). I believe this can apply to being comforted when we mourn over the loss of life. 2nd Cor. 1:3-5. We are comforted by God when we know that he cares too. We are comforted by God when he reminds us of the good times we shared with the person. And we are comforted by each other. However, I believe there’s a deeper meaning to this idea of being comforted when we mourn. It is said that this second beatitude is complementary of the first. Both seem to be similar in recognition of one’s spiritual state of being. Where the first is an intellectual understanding, the second is the emotional response that derives from that understanding. Whereas being poor in spirit is recognizing my own spiritual poverty, mourning is what derives from that recognition. In this I am not merely recognizing my sinful state it but grieving over it. Mourning over the understanding of how spiritually impoverished I am and having that cause me to cry out to God. When we are sorrowful over our sin and the damage it does to our relationship with God it opens the door for God to respond with comfort. Until there is godly sorrow there is no comfort provided. 2nd Cor. 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Those who have godly sorrow will be comforted because their sorrow leads to change. Worldly sorrow (sorrow merely over getting caught or sorrow for other selfish reasons) doesn’t lead to change and we’re doomed to continue in it. But if we have godly sorrow (sorrow over wronging God) it will result in action-turning back to God. When we do that we can be sure that God will be there to comfort us. Blessed are those who mourn.