“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 5:3-6

“Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend” said John R.W. Stott, author of Christian Counterculture. Pride, a vice historically held as the deadliest is now celebrated as a virtue in our culture. One finds pride and arrogance among celebrities, the rich and famous, the powerful and successful. But it is also alive and well in ordinary people. Pride is not seen for its danger or how it can be a barrier to intimacy with God. Humility is seen as weakness in our day, and perhaps in Jesus’ time too. He speaks of it before anything else in the Beatitudes for our benefit.

The first four Beatitudes describe a portrait of a heart. The heart that recognizes its need and is honest about the consequences of its sin. Jesus outlines a description of a posture in heart and attitude that gives life. Humility recognizes who we are and who God is in relationship. Mourning over our spiritual poverty, and restoration given for sin comforts us, and motivates us. Meekness is a willing yielding to God’s way. The more we hunger and thirst and are satisfied, the more we desire God. Those who are filled continue to be filled and grow. Humility allows God and others to embrace us. This posture and path to flourishing is for everyone, in every time and place.

This is Jesus bringing a new way, a new kingdom, in opposition to the way of worldly flourishing. The world’s self-absorbed, self-aggrandized way to happiness is in extreme contrast to what Jesus describes in his Sermon on the Mount. The priority emphasized by Jesus’ first words is the vertical relationship to God his Father. Every disciple who has Jesus living in them, has a life that overflows to others. Their “being” a follower of the Christ in their heart results in their “doing” and living the way of Christ. If you follow Christ you have been called out of the way of this world and into the way of Jesus. Which one of these four beatitudes are you experiencing right now in your relationship with God? Can you see his “blessing” in it?

By Donna Burns  

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