31 July 2014 by Jason Law CM –
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) are well-known, even to non-Christians. They are one of the central pillars in Christianity, and with their focus on the spirit of love and humility, represents a complete shift in direction from the ‘seek to win at all cost’ mindset of the world. Echoing the highest ideals of the teachings of Jesus on mercy, spirituality, and compassion, the Beatitudes have a special place of regard in the hearts of Christians.
SIB Cheras is a church that is small in size (around 80 members) but great in its spirit of fellowship and humility. The church is full of young people who are hungry for God. Unlike most churches, announcements come after the message, and unlike some churches where its members leave right after the message, the members of SIB Cheras discipline themselves to stay around until the end of the service. Furthermore, although a small church, this has helped them make it a point to stay in after church hours so they can fellowship over home-cooked lunch together.
On the 20th of July 2014, Pr David, the Zone 4 Pastor for SIB, shared on the message of the Beatitudes. He opened by challenging our minds on the concept of blessings. He shared that the understanding of the Beatitudes is extremely valuable, because it provides our foundation in how we respond to hardship and challenges. It is an undeniable fact that catastrophes are unavoidable. How then are Christians to respond to them?
‘Everyone wants to be blessed. That is a natural part of being human. All the more so as Christians, we want to be blessed according to Jesus’ standards. However, we must understand what God’s definition of blessing is. Is it obtained from honorary titles, is it obtained by material wealth, or is it obtained by something else entirely? When Christ speaks of blessings, it is from God’s standard, and His standard is different from this world,’ Pr David opened.
Blessed Are The Poor… (v3-4)
‘In Matthew 5:3-4, Jesus taught that the poor are blessed. What did Jesus mean? Is God anti-wealth? No. In fact, Jesus was teaching the people of the true meaning of blessing. He was speaking from the spiritual perspective. Unlike some rich people who are imprisoned by addiction, greed, possessiveness, and discontentment, the poor knows the truly important things in life,’ Pr David shared.
Very often, we find that the poor in possessions have a richness in the spirit. They’re diligent in seeking after God and not complacent in the spiritual matters. They make prayer and communication with God a daily thing, and they have something that cannot be bought by money. By having a deep bond of relationship with the Creator, they’re investing in the Eternal and lasting things of God. And in time, they will be rewarded and all their mourning will be turned into solace.
Blessed Are The Meek (v5)
This is the attitude that Jesus was teaching about in v5, which talks about a Christian’s response to God’s Word.
‘When Jesus was speaking of the meek, He wasn’t talking about the one who is namby-pamby. God’s work is complete, and as His creations, we too are complete. Being meek in Jesus’ context is being open to His word,’ Pr David explained.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is like a two-edged sword, and though it may be painful, it always produces a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).
The person who is meek brings forth the Kingdom of God through their lives, and is steadfast through challenges and persecution. No power in this world can destroy them and they inherit the earth.
Blessed Are The Ones Who Thirst For Righteousness (v6)
Jesus also said blessed are those who thirst for His righteousness. The righteousness of God leads us to be more like Jesus, helping us to live a full life, so that we become blessings and positive influences in the lives of others.
‘The word ‘thirst’ has a significant connotation. It talks about the one who is desperate about listening and responding to God’s Word. We cannot go against the Word of God; it leads to consistent spiritual strength.
‘There is a danger in spiritual poverty. It often leads to the dangers of complacency and self-righteousness. People who have all the advantages in life ie knowledge, experience, possessions, should be an encouragement and the shoulders that prop up the less advantaged or younger believers,’ Pr David imparted.
Blessed Are Those Who Are Pure In Heart, Merciful and PeaceMakers (v7-9)
All together, these three verses speak about proactiveness. Pr David encouraged us to be discerning towards the needs of others. He shared a story about a rich and poor neighbor.
A neighbor who was rich in possessions and one who was poor in possessions lived next to each other. Yet the rich neighbour’s house was always dark, because he was too miserly to light his house up with the electricity, and the poor neighbour’s house was always lit by his candles.
One day, the poor neighbor knocked on the door of the rich neighbour’s house. The rich neighbor was about to scold the poor neighbor angrily when the poor neighbor told him the reason he came. He held out a lit candle to his rich neighbour and innocently told him, ‘Sir, I see your house in gloom everyday without any lights in it. Living alone, you must be lonely. I came to give you this candle so that it may light your house up and bring some happiness into your heart.’
This moved the heart of the rich neighbor so much that he broke down and repented of his attitude towards the poor neighbour.
The ‘poor’ neighbour was poor materially but rich in spirit.
Riches Is Not Only Measured By The Material
Pr David shared that richness is not only measured by the material, but is also measured through the treasures God places in our hearts. This is true richness.
‘The world is full of challenges. What is our response? What do we do about it? We must never give up our inheritance in Christ for the temporary riches of the world. Look at the life of the prophets and gain encouragement through whatever struggles we have in life (Matthew 5:12). The world sees God through the lives of Christians.
‘But challenges can also come from within. Taking an example, when we go online, are we using our time responsibly? The Internet is full of all kinds of things these days. How is our self-control?
Very often, we have to realize that we cannot attain the standard of God without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is extremely important that we keep ourselves in our relationship with God’s Spirit everyday, and the Beatitudes remind us of the richness that comes from this relationship’ Pr David closed.
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