I'm doing a study on the Beatitudes for a youth class at my church. There's a lot of rich truth within that passage of Scripture, so I figured that I would share some of what I'm learning.
In Matthew 5 we see Jesus making His way up a mountain and addressing His disciples as well as the multitudes. This is the beginning of the sermon on the mount.
As He sat down to speak, He began the greatest sermon of all time with what seems to be an odd phrase.
""Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:3
It's 'odd' because it is such a contrary idea to world values. In fact we will see that each Beatitude seems different than what the world prescribes.
Upon careful study we see that the Beatitudes are qualities of someone going to heaven. This is describing a citizen of the kingdom. These are not traits that we muster on our own. Nor are they things we do to save ourselves or even guarantee our salvation.
They are evidences of someone who has put their faith in Christ. They are an outflowing of ones salvation and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
Before we go into each attitude, let's take some time to cover the word "Blessed". Each Beatitude begins with this word so it behooves us to see what it means.
The word can mean happy or fortunate. But we have to be careful as our modern use of the word happy is not really what's in mind here. As a photographer, I'm happy when I get a great sunset or if it snows. But the next sunset might fizzle and snow melts, and my happiness along with it.
That's not what Jesus is saying here. It's a deep seated joy, found not in temporary things but in the eternal God.
Kingdom priorities are vastly different than our typical shifting wants. I believe God wants people to be happy. But the person who wants to be happy needs to shift their focus from fading desires to heavenly goals.
It makes me think back to Psalm 1. The opening chapter of the Psalter compares the blessed person against the wicked. What are the things a blessed person seeks? He flees from evil company and desires fellowship with God through the Word.
The Biblical idea of happiness is not found in temporary contentment and ease. It's found in becoming more like His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So what are you looking to to make you happy? I admit I struggle with this (those sunsets/snow for example). I try too hard to make things happen, not trusting in the God Who loves me.
What's the application, then? As we look at the Beatitudes, we need to understand the difference between worldly happiness and true joy. We need to align our desires with Gods. We need to seek first His kingdom.
I know for me, I used to have a hard time understanding the Beatitudes. I hope that as we study this we'll all come away with a greater knowledge of what God would have of us.
If we, through His power, shift our focus to seeking His kingdom and His will, then we will be truly blessed. In part we see how that manifests itself in the believer through these beatitudes.
Here's a couple resources to check out for further reading:
“Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org”
by: Jeremey Voit
Jeremey is a photographer based in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. He loves travel, nature, and experiencing and sharing the beauty of God's creation.