These are my thoughts after reflecting on a sermon given at Island ECC on Matthew 5:3-10. Fun fact – the Sermon on the Mount is actually the longest sermon Jesus ever gives in the Bible. The focus of this sermon was on happiness.
I’m actually quite surprised that I haven’t studied the Beatitudes much in the past. Each beatitude announces a trouble, but likens it to a blessing. Of course, this is counter-intuitive. This is similar to when James tells us: “consider it pure joy when you ace trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-4). The Beatitudes are declarations of God’s grace for anyone who wholeheartedly follows God’s kingdom as it draws near.
These are the Beatitudes that I resonated with the most:
1. Being poor in spirit
Emotional intelligence is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy. I think I am usually quite good at understanding and gaging my emotions, and keeping them in check (but then again, women usually are better than men at that), and at being intuitive in terms of other’s emotions.
But in terms of godly emotional intelligence – that is, making sure my spiritual health is upheld – I fall short. I sometimes blame God or simply do not understand when things do not go the way I want in life. Lately I’ve been dismissing God and opting to believe that going to him and praying earnestly about real change in my relationship would not put in motion any positive change. The first beatitude is “blessed are the poor in spirit.” To be poor in spirit means to be reliable, pliant and acknowledge full dependence on God. We need to choose to remain in the knowledge that God is the only one in control of our life and we can never truly be independent from him.
Meekness is a proper understanding of one’s value and dignity in view of God’s creation; in spite of who you are. With understanding God comes great worth and humility. To be meek is to be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
God wants us to be holy and happy. Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Righteousness is a commitment to submit to what is right. That means not justifying your sin, but doing what you know is right, to the best of your ability and by the grace of God. For me, this means staying away from temptation and sinful activities and putting an eternity with God over temporary gratification.
4. The Peacemakers
Jesus’ primary mission in coming to earth was to make peace. In the same way, we should have a commitment to reconciling. Romans 12:18 says: “if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
The sermon concludes that there is a direct connection between happiness and selflessness. To not do what we want to do, but to do the right thing. This is, of course, not easy, and we have to try hard to think and act this way. If our lives are marked with this kind of selflessness, God will be ever present.