Tuesday, February 14, 2012

God Thoughts #4

I apologize for the irregularity in font...my computer has its own ideas about how things should be! Here we go on the "blesseds!"

·       Blessed are the poor in spirit—it is a Hebrew idiom meaning “repentant." Jesus was not referring to poor as those in "poverty." The repentant—doesn’t that speak of salvation? The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who repent; the saved ones are the ones who populate heaven! I knew that but never saw that connection here before.

·       Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. I take this to mean the ones who go way beyond remorse; who are deeply grieved by their own sin and failure as well as by society's failure to uphold God’s ways and give Him glory.

·       Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. A “meek” person is not the “wallflower” we often think of when we use the word but one who is humble, gentle, and not aggressive—they can still be of strong character and principled. In the ancient Greco-Roman world, such humility was no more valued than in our world today. Inheriting the earth as future compensation suggests that the meekness in view also included a lack of earthly possessions.

·      Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness…For the poor, “righteousness” would include having their basic needs for food met, but it goes on to include a desire to see God’s standards established and obeyed in every area of life.

·      Blessed are the merciful…“Merciful” embraces the characteristics of being generous, forgiving others, having compassion for the suffering, and providing healing of every kind. Extending these behaviors to others will invoke the law of sowing and reaping! It will come back to us pressed down and running over!

·       Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God—of course they will! The pure in heart have nothing in them (resentment, unforgiveness, hatred, etc.) to cloud or distort their vision! Purity in heart refers to moral uprightness and not just ritual cleanliness. This is a life-style characterized by pleasing God. The “pure in heart” exhibit a single-minded devotion to God that stems from the internal cleansing created by following Jesus. Holiness is a prerequisite for entering God’s presence. The pure in heart pass this test, so they will see God and experience intimate fellowship with him.

·       Blessed are the peacemakers…“peacemakers” focus on interpersonal relationships. Those who work for shālôm (wholeness and harmony rather than strife and discord in all aspects of life) and who reconcile others to God and each other--these will “be called sons of God.” Others will identify them as God’s true ambassadors, as those who are being conformed to His likeness.

·       Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake… All of these characteristics which Jesus labels as blessed are usually not welcomed in the world at large. Hostility may well arise against Jesus’ followers, but even persecuted people are seen by Christ as fortunate. This persecution, however, must be the result of righteous living and not due to individual sin or tactlessness (see 1 Pet 3:14; 4:14–15). What is even more tragic is when one Christian persecutes another, allegedly “because of righteousness,” (proper dress, food, amusements, etc.) when the persecution actually stems from too narrow a definition of Christian belief or behavior.

·       5:11–12 These verses repeat, amplify, and personalize v. 10 by shifting from third-person to second-person address. “Because of me” provides another key qualification. As in v. 10, the only persecution that is blessed is that which stems from allegiance to Jesus and living in conformity with his standards. Because this life is just a fraction of all eternity, we can and must rejoice even in persecution. The joy commanded here, as elsewhere in Scripture (esp. Jas 1:2), is not an emotion but an attitude.

·       “Reward” (more literally wages) is more a promise of “future recompense (compensation) for a present condition of persecution and reproach” than a reward for piety. There is no comparison here between those with a lesser reward and a greater reward. So the reward should be thought of as heaven itself and not some particular status in the life to come. Jesus offers a poignant reminder that the great men and women of Old Testament times often suffered a similar fate. The prophet Jeremiah provides the classic example. The same is true of Christian history. When we suffer, we must avoid the trap of thinking that we are the only ones who have ever experienced such problems—or thinking God is mean or does not care!

·       The upshot of the Beatitudes is a complete inversion of the attitude popularly known in our culture as “machismo.” In fact, this attitude is not limited to a particular culture but characterizes humanity’s self-centered, self-arrogating pride which invariably seeks personal security and survival above the good of others. We are enabled to invert these natural, worldly values only when we recognize that God will in turn invert our marginalized status and grant eternal compensation. This is not to promote works-righteousness; Jesus is addressing those already professing discipleship (5:1). But, like James among the Epistles, Matthew is the one Gospel to emphasize most the changed life that must flow from commitment to Christ.

These insights are taken from the New American Commentary, but I will have to wait until I can consult my reference librarian for a complete biblegraphic citation!
Please share with me what most impacts you.
Blessings, Carol

I’d love for you to leave a comment for how these gems have affected you! And!! we have only begun!!

Blessings, Carol

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