In yesterday’s article, we reviewed how we may be blessed (by God) even when it doesn’t look like it. Let’s go back and look through the Beatitudes in (approximately) the order that Matthew listed them (see Matthew 5:3-12).
- When we are poor in spirit (or persecuted for being righteous, v.10), we may not have much to justify ourselves before God or man, but we can rest in being part of a better kingdom: one where God took care of our shortcomings, and where His recognition of our status – redeemed, adopted, and loved – is more important than popularity with people.
- When we are sad and in mourning – whether through sorrowful circumstances, or because of the weight of sin that we see around us – we can find comfort in God (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4ff, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, Acts 9:31). This is where salvation starts: understanding the problem, and what we need to be saved from.
- When we set aside our pride and humbly serve others in meekness, we get back far more than we ever gave up. Being humble or meek isn’t about being powerless, but it does mean keeping that power under control, and not using it for our own selfish desires.
- When we desperately want righteousness (whether in our own lives, or in the world around us), we will eventually get exactly that: certainly in heaven, but also in smaller ways here on earth, as God’s people follow Jesus’ example and teaching.
- When we show mercy to others who have hurt, offended, or taken advantage of us, we are giving up an opportunity to exact revenge, get paid back, or sometimes even receive an apology. Still, we can receive far greater mercy in return. No matter what we have done, in Christ God forgives our sins (which were a great offense to His perfect holiness).
- It’s no secret that keeping our hearts pure takes plenty of work. When we do the work to keep ourselves clean, though, we can look forward to seeing God. Of course, we don’t get to Heaven because we’re perfect (or even because we’re better than anyone else), but those who live as new creations in Jesus Christ have their sins washed away.
- When we strive for peace, we might not always succeed on this earth. Have you ever tried to point out good points made by two people who are arguing about something they are really passionate about? Still, those who try to make peace on this earth are like their Father in Heaven. God is the ultimate peacemaker, sacrificing what was incredibly valuable to Him, in order to make peace with humankind – who had actively rebelled against Him.
- Finally, it’s tough to take heat for doing the right thing. While I have probably faced some consequences when I fell short of being a good Christian, a lot of lies are said about Christians who are genuinely following Jesus and doing their best to be righteous like Him. There are accusations, insults, and all manner of persecutions taking place against Christianity around the world these days. Still, no matter the level of persecution we face, we can rest in knowing that our doing the right thing still honors God, and we’re not the first to experience pushback. Even for those followers of Jesus whose life on earth is pretty rough, they are blessed.
I encourage you to review the list of Beatitudes two more times today:
The first time through, consider which of the challenging situations described in the first part of each Beatitude applies to you today. Are you mourning, or frustrated because other people are hurting you as you do the right thing? Is it hard to be meek or merciful? If so, take some time to study the corresponding blessings for your current situation. Find hope in God’s promises from the Bible, and find strength in Him to get through and keep going. Be blessed: either by receiving God’s immediate blessings today, or by knowing that more blessings are coming.
The second time you go through the Beatitudes, consider which blessings you need in your life. We might just say “all of them”, but in your situation, do you need to be filled up with what you hunger and thirst for? Do you need to see God, or to claim some ground in the kingdom of heaven? In light of that blessing, consider whether you are lined up with the rest of Jesus’ teachings. If you seek out a great reward in heaven, are you making your faith known – and living it out – enough that other people notice? If they do notice, some will probably push back: after all, resistance occurs when we are moving forward. If no one around you notices that you follow Jesus, maybe you need to be a little bolder.
In any case, may you be blessed today!
Based on Sunday School Lesson prepared for January 3, 2021.
- LESSON FOR JAN. 3, 2021: BACKWARD BLESSINGS, by Mark Scott: https://christianstandard.com/2020/12/lesson-for-jan-3-2021-backward-blessings-matthew-51-16/
- DO THE OPPOSITE (JAN. 3 LESSON APPLICATION), by David Faust: https://christianstandard.com/2020/12/do-the-opposite-jan-3-lesson-application/
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Matthew, by Larry Chouinard. College Press Publishing Company, © 1997, p. 89-102.