Way to Be – Part I

by The Doctor

Have there ever been times when you’ve felt left out of what others were doing? Have you ever gotten the feeling that you were the only one going in one direction while everyone else was going in another direction? Does it sometimes feel like you are the one who always seems to be “going against the flow”?

Well in the Scripture quoted below, Jesus talks about what’s really important in life and what our attitudes really should be- especially during those times when we may be feeling left out…

“One day as the crowds were gathering, (Jesus) went up the hillside with his disciples and taught them there. ‘Humble men are very fortunate!’ he told them, ‘for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them. Those who mourn are fortunate! for they shall be comforted. The meek and lowly are fortunate! for the whole wide world belongs to them.

Happy are those who long to be just and good, for they shall be completely satisfied. Happy are the kind and merciful for they shall be shown mercy. Happy are those whose hearts are pure, for they shall see God. Happy are those who strive for peace- they shall be called sons of God. Happy are those who are persecuted because they are good, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

When you are reviled and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers- wonderful! Be happy about it. Be very glad for a tremendous reward awaits you up in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted too'” (Matthew 5:1-12).

People often refer to chapters 5 through 7 of Matthew’s gospel as the “Sermon on the Mount” because of the mountainside location that Jesus was speaking from. Verses 1-12 of chapter 5 are called “The Beatitudes” which means “the blessings.” In one sense, the Beatitudes are the “be-attitudes” -they show us the kind of mindset that should identify those people who follow Jesus. The first four beatitudes (which we’ll look at now) deal with inward qualities and the last five deal with outward qualities or what our attitudes should be towards others.

Now it was common for teachers in Jesus’ day to sit down while teaching. The students would then come and hang out around the teacher to listen to what was being taught. With this in mind, take a look at the Bible passage quoted above and check out who Jesus is speaking to.

Did you notice that it specifically says that Jesus was teaching His disciples and not the people in general? This is important because a disciple is a learner or a “trainee” so to speak. A disciple is someone who is willing to be instructed- and those things that Jesus is about to teach will only be effective in the lives of those who are really willing to listen and learn from Him.

So what does it mean when Jesus says that humble people are very fortunate? Well, Jesus is saying that such people are blessed, favored or extremely happy. Jesus says that the list of people who will feel this way include…

  • Those who are humble (or “poor in spirit” as it says in other Bible versions)
  • Those who mourn
  • The meek
  • And those who long to be just and good (or those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness”)

Now this idea seems to be completely opposite from what much of the world believes today doesn’t it? After all, the world often says…

  • Blessed are the rich!
  • Blessed are the powerful!
  • Blessed are the beautiful!
  • Blessed are those who can throw a touchdown or score a goal or slam a basketball or hit a baseball 500 feet!

While those things may be true to some extent, Jesus says that the people who are really blessed are the ones who are humble and poor in spirit.

Now when Jesus speaks of those who are “poor in spirit,” He isn’t speaking about people who don’t have any money. People who are “poor in spirit” are people who realize that they don’t measure up when compared to the infinite, all powerful and totally perfect God.

People who are poor in spirit are people who don’t go around boasting about how much pull they have with “the Man upstairs.” People who are poor in spirit are people who don’t believe that they’ll be OK because “the good things they’ve done outweigh the bad things they’ve done.” People who are poor in spirit don’t believe they’ll get to heaven just because they go to church or performed some ritual or gave a lot of money away. People who are humble and poor in spirit are people who realize that God is perfect and they aren’t!

If you’d like to get a further idea of what Jesus is talking about here, check out this example taken from one of His own stories…

“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a proud, self-righteous Pharisee, and the other a cheating tax-collector. The proud Pharisee ‘prayed’ this prayer: ‘Thank God, I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I go without food twice a week, and I give God a tenth of everything I earn.’

But the corrupt tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed, but beat upon his chest in sorrow, exclaiming, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner.’ I tell you this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home forgiven! For the proud shall be humbled, but the humble shall be honored” (Luke 18:10-14).

To those people who are truly humble and poor in spirit Jesus says, theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What’s next? Well, Jesus says, “Those who mourn are fortunate! for they shall be comforted.” Sometimes it’s hard to listen to the news without getting upset over the bad things that always seem to be happening. Each day we are confronted with the misfortune, unfairness, suffering or wrongdoing that goes on in the world and it often grieves The Doctor to see how easily people can lie, steal, cheat or talk behind the backs of others. And maybe you feel the same way. But listen, the good news is this- if you are a Christian and you mourn over these things, then Jesus promises that one day you will be comforted.

Jesus goes on to say, “The meek and lowly are fortunate! for the whole wide world belongs to them.” So who are these “meek and lowly” people that Jesus is talking about here? Is He talking about little wishy-washy, weakling, doormat people who allow everyone to walk all over them? No way.

You see, meekness means “power under control.” A meek person is a person who will defer to someone with authority instead of insisting on doing something their own way. A meek person is a humble person; someone who doesn’t demand his or her own way even though they could get it. A meek person is a person who shows gentleness and humility rather than someone who is self-righteous, self-centered, and self-sufficient. To these people, Jesus promises that …they will inherit the earth.

Finally, Jesus tells us, “Happy are those who long to be just and good, for they shall be completely satisfied.” In other words, those who strongly desire to have a right standing with God will see that desire fulfilled. If you really want to live the kind of life that is honorable, righteous, and pleasing to God then you have Jesus’ personal assurance that your desire will be satisfied.