For the past eight weeks, we have been looking into the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount. The other day, I read Psalm 32 and noticed it begins with the same wording as Matthew 5.
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
Psalm 32:1-2 ESV
While looking for a commentary about these verses, I came across an article from “Working Preacher” called The Pursuit of Happiness.
The Hebrew word, ashre, translates into Blessed are. The Working Preacher described it as Happiness is… This is an interesting translation of the word. You can read it here.
What comes to mind when you hear happiness is?
I found these quotes during a quick online search:
Happiness is a warm puppy.
…having you in my life.
…being weird every now and then.
…the privilege of friendship.
…letting go of your worries.
… not out there, it’s in you.
What would you say happiness is? To me, happiness is laughing with my family.
The Bible is full of these Blessed are /Happiness is statements.
There are Beatitudes in Deuteronomy, Job, Jeremiah, Psalms, Revelation, and probably others.
Let’s look at a few other examples I found in the Bible, and my Happiness is interpretation below them.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
Jeremiah 17:7 ESV
Happiness is the man who trusts in the Lord…
Isn’t true happiness being able to fully trust in Someone? Knowing our Father will never lie, cheat, hurt, or disappoint us is a wonderful feeling. I was thinking the other day, if I truly believe God can not lie, then everything He has told me is truth. Everything He has promised He will do, because He has to–He. Can’t. Lie. Lying would go against His holy and perfect nature.
Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
Job 5:17 NIV
Happiness is getting corrected by God…
This isn’t exactly a quote we would make into a poster and paste on our wall, right? No one really likes correction or discipline. However, I would prefer the Lord correct or discipline, me now, in this life, rather than in eternity. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
In addition, Hebrews 12:11 tells us, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
A number of years ago, I developed a bad attitude with my pastor (Many others saw my poor attitude, as well). It didn’t seem to matter to him what I wanted to teach because he would either say he taught it or he was going to teach it. To me, it seemed as if he didn’t want me to teach at all.
One Sunday morning during worship, I grumbled to the Lord. I complained how my pastor wouldn’t let me teach or lead any groups. As a result, I felt useless and angry. Suddenly, I heard the Lord’s voice inside me, AND it was neither gentle nor caring. Sternly, He answered me, “Your pastor didn’t say ‘No,’ I DID!”
If I could have crawled under my seat, I would have. God made it clear I needed to quit grumbling about the pastor and accept his answer. This was the closest to having the Lord yell at me as I have ever gotten. I won’t forget it either. But God changed my relationship with my pastor for the better through this. I realized all the things I thought he was doing, he wasn’t. I publicly apologized for my bad attitude.
Godly discipline yields fruit–and happy children.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Ps. 34:8 ESV
Happiness is the man who takes refuge in the Lord…
A refuge is “a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”
I have a picture my mom took on my fifth birthday. I wore a little flowered dress with a bow in my hair sitting on my dad’s lap. That was my safe place.
My dad died almost thirty years ago. One day as I prayed, feeling lonely and a bit depressed, the Lord reminded me of that picture. He spoke to my heart and told me I sit on His lap in much of the same way I sat on my dad’s as a little girl. My Father sees me as His little girl and He holds me when I am happy or sad. The Lord protects me, comforts me, speaks to me and loves me. He is my refuge. The words the Lord spoke to me gave my heart peace, and also joy and happiness.
Here’s the last one for now…
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2 ESV
Happiness is not walking with the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of scoffers, but delighting in the Law of the Lord…
1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” That’s certainly a good reason not to walk, stand, and sit with people who will corrupt us. How many people have you known who didn’t regret following others into trouble?
I looked up the word happiness online. As I read over the definitions given, I realized God, in His Word, gave us the true meaning of Happiness. It is not following Him in a half-hearted, on-again, off-again, when-it-is-convenient way.
What if true happiness is being poor in spirit, peacemakers, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, being meek, mourning over our sin, being merciful, getting persecuted, taking refuge in the Lord, getting corrected by God…
You get the picture.
We will never find true happiness by looking at the world around us. It comes from looking up.
It comes from gazing past ourselves to the One who is the meaning of happiness.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
When was the last time you mourned over someone or something?
There are days my heart is heavy over the things I see in this world–in politics, in the church, or in our country. I have mourned over the death of family members and pets, and the loss of relationships.
Sometimes as I mourned, I felt Jesus mourning with me, and other times I felt alone and unable to find peace or comfort. That didn’t mean Jesus wasn’t there. In the case of a few friendships, Jesus just let me cry it out until no more tears fell; then told me to let them go.
If you look at this verse from the standpoint of mourning or grieving over loss, you may always expect to be comforted. After all, Jesus promised comfort to the mourners.
Last week, I explained the meaning of the phrase Blessed are. It means, O the blessedness of or the gladness of…
If you combine O the gladness of with the phrase those who mourn, it doesn’t really make sense. Did Jesus really tell us that it is a blessed or a happy thing to mourn? How can we be happy while we are grieving?
Mourning is not exactly what I find happiness in.
However, the type of mourning Matthew 5:4 refers to is the kind of mourning we do over our sins.
That’s the kind of mourning God wants to hear and see. When we come to Him with remorse and repent for our lost tempers, unkind words, lies, or attitudes, among many others, He forgives us—then He comforts us.
He doesn’t hold our sin against us, send us on a guilt trip or condemn us, either.
I believe genuine remorse over our sin is a song in His ears. Why? Because He can now bury that sin in the deepest sea or as far as the east is from the west. He will never have to look at it again.
Jesus’ blood is the reason He can do that. One precious death for a multitude of sinners.
The Old Testament verse similar to Matthew 5:4 is Psalm 30:5.
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NLT
I can also see a bit of play on words in this verse…Joy comes with or in the mourning.
You see, repentance is a gift. True repentance starts with understanding our position as beggars (Poor in spirit) in total dependence on God’s grace and mercy.
If you have experienced a burden of sin lifted by God’s forgiveness, then you know the joy that comes next and the amazing gift you have been given.
It’s true – weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
Are you on Twitter or heard of #Healthyfaith Twitter chat?
You can find it when you click on Explore and enter #Healthyfaith.
The topics on #Healthyfaith vary from night to night, but each leader has a different topic for at least 8 weeks. Recently, on Thursday nights, we led our #Healthyfaith chat on the Beatitudes. For me, it was fun to gather research on Matthew 5:3-12 and come up with questions based on these scriptures.
Since the Twitter chat topic changed to the Names of God, I’d like to share what I’ve learned through my study of the Beatitudes over the next nine weeks on this blog.
I hope you find it encouraging, educating, and even life-changing.
Here we go!
And you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. Revelation 5:10 ESV
Biology was and is my favorite subject. I loved learning about the different plants, animals, cells, and fungi in the world, especially how we as humans fit into it all. This world belongs to our Creator and everything in it He made it with a purpose—except mosquitos….I’m not sure of their purpose other than to feed bats and dragonflies…but that’s another subject.
As a biologist, I have taught many classes on the six different kingdoms of biology. Starting from the smallest single-cell kingdoms like Archaebacteria and Eubacteria up to the largest multi-celled kingdoms of plants and animals—from the mosquito to the Blue whale. These kingdoms represent every life form on this planet.
The largest is the animal kingdom, which includes humans.
Amongst all the kingdoms we learn about, the most important one we will ever know is God’s. He created His Kingdom, and appointed Jesus as King, to represent and usher all humans into it.
Because we can’t see this awesome place God has for us, many people decide to build their own out of their dissatisfaction.
One way the enemy entices us is through our profession. We may be a secular business, a Christian ministry, or even an author—trying to build a personal kingdom of followers to buy our products and embrace our vision. Our kingdom and brand adopt our name.
You are the customer. Everyone we know—from people we worship with to friends and family becomes potential clients and/or purchasers.
We become the king of our kingdom.
This is what others teach us to do.
Now, I’m not saying we are trying to usurp God’s Kingdom and authority. But, it is easy to get caught up in our own kingdom-building.
Even the Pharisees had problems with this. They weren’t all bad either. We see in Luke 17:20:
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.Luke 17:20
The Kingdom of Heaven
What does that mean?
One rabbi said, “When a person committed himself daily to love God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength, (by saying the Shema) he had “received upon himself the kingdom of heaven.” (https://engediresourcecenter.com/2019/09/04/what-is-the-kingdom-of-heaven/)
For us, the Kingdom of Heaven/God is in our hearts when we make the Lord- King of all we are and do. The Kingdom of Heaven lives in us!
In Matthew 5, we learn what type of people make up His kingdom.
The Poor in Spirit
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The phrase Blessed are translates from the Hebrew as O the blessedness of or The gladness of. This is not a condition of the person who is poor in spirit, but the reality of the person.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
The Hebrew term means to “crouch like a helpless beggar.” (https://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Brit_Chadashah/Beatitudes/beatitudes.html)
This represents a person in absolute need of God to take care of them. This is humility at its best.
A person who is poor in spirit is the opposite of worldly thinking—independent, proud, with an “I have it all-I need nothing” attitude.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus begins with the poor in spirit in the Beatitudes?
Without the knowledge and understanding that we are nothing more than helpless beggars, we will never be peacemakers, we will never mourn, never be humble, or hunger and thirst for His righteousness….get the picture?
But that is only in this world. In the Heavenly places, God will esteem the humble, poor in spirit, peacemakers, persecuted, and the compassionate. God loves these traits in us.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10
O the gladness of being poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.Matt. 5:3
It is a blessing as well as a state of gladness to recognize we are poor in spirit. We will have the Kingdom of Heaven living within us until the day Jesus takes us to Heaven to live with Him forever!