Matthew 5:3-5 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
The simplest concept we can think of when being blessed by God is being happy. Being happy is a result of the highest blessing God gives, and that highest blessing is salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Nine times Jesus Christ declares a particular people as blessed. Nine conditions are given by Christ as requisites, characteristics, or indicators of being blessed. For the past three Wednesday’s we have been studying Psalms 1:1-3 where those verses providentially reads very similar to Christ’s first 11 verses of His sermon. Just as Jesus begins by saying blessed are those who fall under category A; so does Psalms 1:1 start with Blessed are those who do not follow the pathway of subject A. We discovered in Psalms 1:1 that the word blessed is attributed to those who are believers of the true God and Christ; never is it attributed to those who do not believe in God. This is obvious by scriptures such as;
Ps 65:4; Eph 1:3 Blessed are those whomever God chooses.
Isa 51:2; Rev 19:9 Blessed are those whomever God calls.
Matt 16:16; Matt 16:17 Blessed are those who know Christ.
Ps 89:15 Blessed are those who know the Gospel.
Further scripture implies and explicates blessed are those who are not offended at Christ, those who believe in God with faith, those who’s sins are forgiven, those who God credits as righteous apart from their own good deeds, those who God disciplines, those who suffer for believing in Christ, those who trust God, those who fear God, those who hear the word of God and obey it, those who take pleasure in obeying the commandments of God, those who keep God’s commandments, avoid the wicked, endure temptation, watch against sin, rebuke sinners, watch for the Lord, die for the Lord, have part in the first resurrection, those who favor the just, the righteous, saints; and furthermore the scriptures continue from old to New Testament testifying that it is only the people of God who fall under the category of being blessed. Not to sound redundant from other studies, but I will again mention that this is not to be confused with God’s general goodness, grace and mercy given to all of humanity such as giving unbelievers the material things needed to sustain their life’s such as; homes, vehicles, or more wealth than perhaps the believer of God. Wealth and material things are not indicators of being blessed by God unless you are a believer of God. To declare an unbeliever as blessed because he seems happy or has wealth is to make a miss application of the word blessed. For example; in this very chapter Jesus said in:
verse 45, for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
We see here an example of God’s universal goodness to humanity, which causes the sun to rise and fall every night and morning; and the rain to fall on all humanity. These are elements needed for our health and sustainment, as the sun and rain are relative to seasons. Without these elements from God it may be impossible for believers and unbelievers to produce anything from agriculture to economics. We may also view this in a gospel sense, in that Christ is the Sun that illuminates His wisdom throughout all the earth with His revelation, and rains down on all nations His marvelous Gospel; which gives us our spiritual nutrition to sustain our eternal life and life on earth, for we do not live by physical bread alone, but by the very word of God. Also, just as the rain falls all throughout the earth; so has the Gospel of Christ rained on all nations and is a blessing to those who repent and believe, but to those who will not repent and believe; the Gospel becomes their vindication for eternal punishment. What that means is that when the Gospel is preached and man refuses to believe; God’s punishment of sinners is vindicated, or justified by the means of the preaching of the Gospel when man hardens himself revealing his inward hostility toward the Gospel of Christ. That is true anthropology if you have ever heard it.
One final assertion on the word blessing is needed to be understood. The word blessing is thrown around very loosely these days. The word has lost its significance as a consequence of miss application. If you accept that the word blessed is applied only to the believers of Christ, as scripture seems to implicate; then is it just to say God bless you to an unbeliever? I would reply that it depends on how you phrase it to the unbeliever. The Christian must remember what the mind of the ungodly is like. The sinner does not think after the things of God. Scripture reveals that the natural man is inwardly hostile toward God; so when a Christian says “God bless you” to an unbeliever, the unbeliever is not thinking of God, but instead miss applies the word blessed to his own lusts. The Christian has to consider how the ungodly may perceive being blessed by God, more than likely he is thinking “yes if God exists I hope he does bless me with a nice car, or a two story house on a hill, or a six figure a year paying job; or he may scoff at the idea of the existence of God. That being said, I do not believe it is wrong to wish blessings to an unbeliever, but we would have to be careful how we phrase it; therefore, be specific such as; “I hope God blesses you with His salvation,” “I hope God blesses you with repentance of sin,” “I hope God blesses you with the revelation of His son Jesus Christ,” or things of that nature, why? Because considering all the scriptures the word blessed is in reference to; that would be the proper application, proper perspective, and proper perception of the Christian mind.
In verse 3 of Matthew we see Jesus Christ following in the same artistic language of the Old Testament by proclaiming blessed are the subjects. Jesus Christ said in verses three through eleven; blessed are the poor in spirit, they that mourn, the meek, those that hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness sake. These are the characteristics of those who are subjects of the Kingdom of Heaven, those who have acknowledged and surrendered their own will to be made subject to the will of God. Consequently Jesus Christ attributes a reward to each characteristic by saying we will be given the kingdom of heaven, we will be comforted, we shall inherit the earth, we shall be filled with the righteousness we hunger and thirst for, we shall obtain mercy, we will see God, we will be called the children of God, and again we shall be given the kingdom of heaven; and in addition, for those who suffer for the sake of Christ; our reward in heaven will be great. All this considered ought to motivate all to repent of their sins and follow Christ to the end of the world.
- Poor in spirit: obviously no one inherits the kingdom of God because they are financially poor. Just because someone lives his life as homeless, or in poverty does not guarantee their selves a place in God’s kingdom; in other words poverty does not merit salvation. Instead; according to 19th century American Baptist pastor and professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, John Albert Broadus; the Jews had a high esteem for wealth in the Messianic Kingdom. Jesus Christ was declaring the contrast by stating it will be the poor in spirit who will inherit the kingdom. The poor in spirit does not exclude those who are impoverished financially, just as it does not exclude the wealthy, but the theological concept is those who are irrespectively poor or wealthy, must realize that it is the spirit who all men are born with are destitute of the spiritual nourishing of God. In context of this chapter it also coincides with humility. Being poor in spirit requires of ourselves to realize that we are, as a result of our sinful nature; spiritually worth less than we naturally expect ourselves to be worth. Those who think of themselves to high, haughty, and arrogant are characteristics of sinful pride, and not one of a Christian character worthy of the kingdom of God.
- Blessed are they that mourn: It seems contradictory to say blessed or happy are those that mourn. Mourning is usually related to sadness and weeping. Yet Christ relates it to a sense of happiness. This second statement closely relates to the first. This is not mourning over the natural events of the misfortunes of life, though our Lord does give comfort for those things as well. This mourning ties with spiritual poverty in the sense that the one mourning has a realization of the inescapable inward sin in them-selves. We Christians mourn because we are incapable of fully obeying God’s commandments. We desperately desire to please God and naturally fail every day until it brings us to our knees with tears; partly in fear for what God can do to our souls, but primarily because we thank Him for His grace and faith he gave us to lead us to repentance and yet we return the favor with daily disobedience. We mourn as we see the sufferings around the world as a consequence of sin in every man. We mourn because we understand the eternal calamity that awaits those who do not repent. Consider the warning from Christ, who warns those who do not mourn over their sin, but instead are happy in it.
Luke 6:25 reads: Woe to you that are full! for you shall hunger. Woe to you that laugh now! for you shall mourn and weep.
Sadly the un-repented man will mourn, but mourn from the agony of hell. But for us who mourn over our sin now; we are blessed and take comfort in our Lord and the Holy Spirit who was given to us as our comforter and savior. We are comforted that our distressful sin has been forgiven by the resurrection of Christ. We are comforted by the promise of eternal life promised to us as the Lord ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us in God’s mansion. We can look forward with comfort and hope for the day when; as it is written in
Revelation 21:4: God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
- Blessed are the meek: In my study of meekness I found no greater exhortation to this word, and I felt I could not do better than one of my favorite theologians John Gill; who in defining meekness wrote; “ (those) Who are not easily provoked to anger; who patiently bear, and put up with injuries and affronts; carry themselves courteously, and affably to all; have the meanest thoughts of themselves, and the best of others; (who) do not envy the gifts and graces of other men; are willing to be instructed and admonished, by the meanest of the saints; quietly submit to the will of God, in adverse dispensations of providence; and ascribe all they have, and are, to the grace of God,” (Gill). No greater representation of meekness may be found in any other than Jesus Christ; who made Himself subject to disrespect, abuse, torture, and death without allowing His anger to be raised as result of humiliation. Christ said in:
Matthew 11:29, Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
Sin has distorted the concept of meekness in making us seem unworthy of masculinity by allowing someone to wrong you. In the world allowing someone to disrespect you without taking vengeance for it at that inflicting moment would not give you respect, but instead you will be looked upon as someone worth less than a man; someone who allows himself to be treated in a degrading manner and not fighting back as a result of fear. There are many negative and degrading words invented to label this category of man. Yet the scriptures have a contrast view. The Apostle Paul says in:
Romans 12:19, Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Again the Paul says in:
1 Corinthians 6:7 The fact that you have lawsuits among yourselves demonstrates that you have already been defeated. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
Of course there are some practical issues with these suggestions. We as imperfect creatures can only tolerate abuse to an extent. Unless your life or family is in immediate danger then let it go. If your shoes were stolen, then let the Lord have His vengeance. Christ said if we abide by this we shall inherit the earth. Why would we want to inherit the earth? The earth is full of imperfections and sin that we are called to set ourselves apart from. We who look forward to the separation of the flesh to be with our God in Heaven may not at first understand what Christ meant by this. But the earth that Christ meant is not the world as you and I know it. It is believed that Christ was alluding to the new earth at the Lord’s return. Also, Christ is alluding to:
Psalms 7:37 which reads, But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
For the Jews who understood the covenantal history between God and the His people; they understood this to be an allusion to the land of Canaan. It was in Genesis 18:21 where God promised Abraham and his descendants all the lands including the land of the Canaanites. This Promised Land by God represents the favor of God on His people. For those of who are obedient to the Lord there is inheritance and favor to be had from the God. It is His pleasure to give us everything we need to fulfill His will in our lives. It is His pleasure to give to us the commodities that we desire so long as they do not become distractions. Nevertheless, it is not the physical things of this earth we ought desire as an inheritance; this earth belongs to God as it becomes the footstool of Christ as He reigns. The Promise Land we Christians ought to have our minds fixated on is none other than Jesus Christ. Christ is our Promise Land given by God. Christ is our ultimate inheritance and expecting anything beyond Jesus Christ is as foolish as expecting to reach the horizon beyond what your eyes can see. Do you not know what you have in Christ? Everything you need is in Christ. There is no need to want anything else, and though we have urges of having nice cars or motorcycles; these are matters we need to control and have discipline over because what profit are they to the ministry of God? If the Lord has blessed you with nice things then enjoy them, but there is no room for boasting about them because you will not save a soul by doing so. The immature Christian will boast around an unbeliever; showing off his Corvette the Lord gave him, and thinking it may attract the unbeliever to the kingdom of God, nonsense. Men are saved by one thing and one thing only; belief in Jesus Christ by the preaching of the Gospel. If you recognize Christ as your inheritance, you are wealthy beyond the limits of your imagination. The Apostle Paul said in:
1 Corinthians 3:20-23 And again, The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your’s; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s; 23 And you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
Also Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you.