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Saturday, December 19, 2009


   We generally refer to Matthew 5:3-12 as the "Beattitudes." They are placed at the beginning of the "Sermon on the Mount" which covers chapters 5, 6 & 7 of Matthew. These beatitudes describe Christian character, and we could not expect to have Christian conduct without first understanding the Christian character. Christian character comes before Christian conduct.
    To understand the beatitudes, we must understand the depth of the word "Blessed." It's often said to be similar to being "happy." This is true, but it goes much deeper than that. "Blessed" here means "an inward state which is not altered by outside forces."  "Happiness" depends on outside forces - - "Blessedness" does not.  Happiness can be dependent on, or subject to, many things such as one's health, friends, or even the weather.  "Blessedness" is dependant on developing a Christian character; developing a "state of being" within you that is not altered by outside, worldly things.
    The first step in developing a Christian character is to be "Poor in spirit."  And I want to point out that these Beattitudes are not arranged haphazardly.  "Poverty in spirit" must come first. It cannot come last, or even second.  One who is poor in spirit is one who recognizes he is totally dependent upon God for any righteous spiritual resources. Until this takes place, no spiritual progress can be made. God looks with favor at "him who is of a poor and contrite spirit and trembles at His word" (Isaiah 66:2).  It is sometimes said concerning morally upright people that "all they need is to be baptized." That is not all they need!  They also need an "absence of pride" -- "a sense of unworthiness" -- and a "humble spirit" toward God and His word.
    "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."  This Beattitude grows out of the first. Not ANY mourner will be comforted. Jails are filled with people who mourn. This is a mourning over sins, of others as well as our own. David said, "I am sorry for my sin" (Psalm 38:18), "Rivers of waters run down my eyes because the people keep not Thy law" (Psalm 119:136).
    Those who joke and make light about sexual permissiveness, divorce, drunkenness, and sin in general, are walking a broad way that does not lead to life.  Solomon writes, Fools make a mockery of sin" (Proverbs. 14:9).  (continued next Monday)...   Stay Hungry (Matt. 5:6) - - Toby Miller
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