Cover 2017-08-06

Ron Writes

How Blessed are You?

The Beatitudes certainly is a strange list. “Blessed” is the translation of the Greek, Makarios, which can also be translated “happy.” We want to be happy. The list seems to be messed up. If you want to be happy, would any of these things be on your list. “Blessed are the poor.” Really? Can you imagine poor with a smile on it. Who wants to live in poverty? How does “mourn” and happy go together? Or what about happiness and persecution? In fact, there’s nothing in the list that seems to be especially attractive.

Our list might look different. Where is the blessed are the wealthy? Suspiciously missing are the famous, the powerful, the beautiful, athletic, healthy, talented or intelligent.

Scholars say there are no verbs in the beatitudes. These aren’t statements as much as they are exclamations - “O the bliss of….”

The beatitudes must be understood in their spiritual context. In Jesus’ day, the religious leaders seemed to have the corner on the market with God. If you weren’t a Pharisee, scribe or from a spiritually elite group, you might be feeling left out. You were being judged daily as one who wasn’t worthy enough, good enough, or right enough, yet you still yearned for God. And then when you couldn’t feel any lower, Jesus comes along and exclaims that you are blessed. Do you realize how blessed you are – “O the bliss of…” of the poor in spirit or those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. The problem with the religious leaders is they felt spiritually full. They placed their hope on their own performance, which no matter how good it might be, falls short.

Do you realize how blessed you are to have a yearning for God? A lot of people have no longings for God. Many don’t care. Many are self-satisfied. Jesus told the parable about the Pharisee and the tax-collector who prayed (Lk. 18:9-14). Only one went away justified. Only one was poor in spirit, hungering and thirsting and mourning.

Recognize your blessings. “Blessed is the man who has realized his utter helplessness and puts his whole trust in God.” Amazing!