What does Christian Living Look like?
Are you looking for authenticity in your walk for the Lord? Perhaps you feel as though you can’t quite get it right. Maybe it doesn’t feel as though you expected or you can’t seem to get past different areas or struggles?
Let’s lean in together to examine how Jesus says we should live.
In comparison to what we see our world promoting, I promise you it isn’t quite what you’d expect. Join me as we explore Christian Living as laid out in the Beatitudes.
“Oh Blessings!” I have heard a woman or two say these two words on more than one occasion. I’ve read emails that have been signed, “Blessings,” and each time I’m left scratching my head thinking, I don’t get it, what does this even mean, what am I missing? Do I need to start signing my emails the same, do I need to start greeting others, “Oh! BLESSINGS?” If you’re doing that, that’s great I won’t judge you because clearly I’m not getting it, but for me – no way, I just can’t…
I can however, pay attention to my curiosity, a curiosity that led me to this NEW study!
What does it mean to be blessed?
Is it having everything you want? Is it a happy feeling?
To be blessed according to Webster’s dictionary means to be well off, happy, and fortunate. Is that what it means when we look at it according to scripture? OR is that really just a watered down over used word that’s led us away from the richness of what God really means when He speaks to us about blessing?
Several years ago I found myself reading through the Sermon on the Mount and caught myself wondering, “I’ve heard people say this is the greatest sermon of all time – but I don’t get it, what’s the big deal?”
I’ve had similar experiences with other areas of scripture and each time the Lord has put me in my place. He’s opened my closed mind, and shown me time and time again, “Girl, there is way more to this than your finite mind can grasp in just one setting.”
Have you ever had a time like that? If so I wonder if you’d be willing to jump on over to the She Chooses Instagram page and share it with me?
Having had this sort of experience before I’ve learned when this, “I don’t get it” mentality sets in I’ve got to go straight to the Lord. So I did, and there He was and it left me feeling as though He was just waiting for me to ask.
I love Max Lucado’s stories he writes about the Wemmicks. If you’ve never heard of them, or introduced your children, you need to check it out for yourself. In these stories, there is this wood worker who carves these little wooden people called Wemmicks. He has this beloved little Wemmick named Punchinello who loves Eli, but finds himself struggling to fit in with the other Wemmicks. In the end his friend helps lead him back to Eli’s workshop where Eli helps sand away the things of this world, and brings Him back to the truth, and enlightens him to His goodness. When I feel these things I always catch myself feeling like Punchinello, walking myself back to the workshop of our great King sitting down for a good old sanding session.
This one friends was such a wonderful experience. As I went to the Lord and prayed he took me on a journey through the Beatitudes that is shaping my life, and helping me to see and understand this was and will always be the greatest sermon of all time.
Over the next few episodes, I want us to journey together through the Beatitudes – and as we do we’re going to find there is way more to these than we can grasp in just one setting!
The Beatitudes show us how Jesus expects us to live.
How do we know we’re living a good life? What’s the source of a good life?
The Pharisees said it was found in a list of regulations. Jesus said it’s found in these short paradoxical statements that when we dig into, will cut us straight to the core.
They’re part of the Sermon on the Mount and found in Matthew 5:
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
8 statements that we’re going to dive into over the next few weeks.
These are the most challenging pursuit any person can engage in.
Because they’re nonsensical and countercultural. They set a high standard, and it’s one our flesh naturally pushes against. But if we choose to lean in and dig deeper, we show they reveal to us a progression of our spiritual life. A progression that we can never fully engage in without God’s help.
So where do we start?
We start where the disciples did.
Matthew 5:1. Something that stands out to me, is Jesus went up into a mountain away from the multitude – and his disciples went to him.
To really understand the depth of what these verses are saying we’ve got to be willing to follow him to that place, and to allow him to walk us through them. Because with out Him, we can’t understand these on our own.
This isn’t a checkbox in a list that comes off the top of your head- this is intentional placement, it’s a progression.
We know how to start. Now we have to make sure we know what it means to be blessed.
What does it mean to be blessed? According to Webster it means to be well off, happy, and fortunate. Have we watered down the word blessing? What is God’s definition of blessing?
Blessing is something we’re all striving for, some look to wealth and fame to get that sense that they’ve obtained it. Others look to God. Who we find truly is the source for blessing – and what we find is God’s word reveals it. It’s no secret.
Genesis 1:22, “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.”
When we dive into scripture and what words mean – it’s important we look to find what was the first mention of the word specifically? Here we find the first mention of blessing in Genesis 1:22, and when we translate that back to it’s original meaning we find God’s original design for creation was for them to experience prosperity, peace, and fulfillment. But sin broke that – The Beatitudes teach us how to get back to that place. God of order – as we study these we see that truth magnified, and the order He spoke these matters.
So what does God say is first?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Before we dive into the blessed are the poor in spirit, let’s look at the second part the IS in that statement is a promise for the future and a promise for right now.
Questions to think about:
Does His kingdom now seem real to you?
How can we experience the kingdom of heaven while we’re here on earth?
Blessed are the poor in spirit sounds nonsensical our counterintuitive, why?
Our natural self thinks great things about our flesh.
We don’t want to acknowledge we’re not perfect. But we find a couple hard truths when we read Jeremiah 17:9 and Romans 3:10.
Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it.
Romans 3:10 - As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.
When he said not one, it really means not one of us.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
Poor in this sense is bankrupt with no possibility of even making on payment even on the interest. Jesus said we need to recognize this as our true spiritual and moral condition. We need to come to him and acknowledge that we have failed to meet his standards.
What does Poor in Spirit look like?
We find it in, Luke 18:9-14:
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Questions to consider from this text:
Who was Jesus talking to?
Which person meets our definition of poor in spirit?
How do we know?
What was his posture like?
Which words did he use?
Was there something wrong with the Pharisees prayer?
Our flesh will lead us to that horizontal comparison which we see in the Pharisee, but God’s desire is for us to have that vertical comparison.
The tax collector understood that, and if we want to start our progression or continue on it, that’s what we ‘ve got to do.
There is another promise of scripture to all who acknowledge their spiritual poverty and confess it and repent of it. What is that promise? We find it in 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Another instance is found in Proverbs 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
The tax collector did this beautifully
What does a person with a poor spirit look like? It looks like the tax collector. He was moved to a place of sorrow and grief. Which leads us straight into the next Beatitude. Once we recognize the true condition of our hearts we are moved to sorrow and grief. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. This is the step where we find the ability to move what is inside to the outside. Allowing this progression to happen is essential, and it does astonishing things for our emotional health.
Let’s go back to Genesis – God’s first question to Adam was, “Where are you?”
Did God know?
Then why did he ask?
This is God’s intentional design – he knows our sin, circumstance, all of it – but he wants our acknowledgement. He desires for us to admit, profess, speak. Biblical mourning – is an act of reflection, cleansing, healing, and expression. It allows us to reflect the image of God out of a pure and redeemed heart. We can’t move forward in Christian living without allowing God to heal us emotionally.
Penthos (means mourning) It is an external expression of an internal reality. It is directly connected to poor in spirit, Ptochos (means Brokenness). When this is truly experienced it leads us to penthos (Mourning). To be blessed we must move our pain from the inward to the outward to give/release to God.
Isaiah 61:3 gives us a great image showing us why. We find to console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
There’s so much beauty happening, and such a great exchange going on as we really process these words. We find in them life.
The opposite of this is found in Psalms 32:3-5 :
“for when I kept silent, my bones wasted away….”
I don’t know about you but Isaiah 61:3 sounds a lot better to me.