“Blessed are…” The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most famous teaching, begins with eight blessings for the Christian life. At first glance, the Beatitudes seem like a simple list of promises, but there is so much more to discover! When read in order, they actually show the progression of the Christian faith. From acknowledging our need for Christ and mourning over our sin to eventually being persecuted for our faith, the Beatitudes take us on the journey of a believer. So jump in and buckle up as we explore the Beatitudes in this 8 part blog series!
The Journey of Every Believer
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit…” Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:3 with what seems like a backwards statement. In the original Greek there are several words for “poor”, depicting varying levels of economic poverty. In this passage, Jesus uses the word for the poorest of poor, the beggars. And yet he calls them blessed.
A few years ago, there was a young beggar who stood on the corner of our onramp and sometimes peddled his rickety bike through our suburban neighborhood. He held a cardboard sign with permanent marker scrawled across that read, “I bet you can’t hit me with a quarter!” It always made me smile, and I must admit I never successfully hit him with one.
Unlike a poor man who wallows in self pity, the hallmark sign of a beggar is someone who wants help. So he humbly (or sometimes cleverly) asks for it. It is this mindset that Jesus calls blessed… the humility to recognize our spiritual poverty and ask Him for help. This is where the journey of the believer begins. Before we can enter into a relationship with Christ, we must first realize our deep need for Him and, like a beggar, call on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13).
But there’s just one problem. We don’t really like to ask for help, do we?
In movies and media, men are often the ones who get stereotyped as not wanting to ask for help. They won’t stop for directions. They won’t admit they are wrong. But I think this male stereotype wears thin because, the truth is, pride is a woman’s problem too.
In fact, in today’s third wave feminist world, women are the ones trying to prove themselves to others and make up for lost time. Have you ever noticed how women have a tendency to tell each other stories of female empowerment to boost our self esteem? “Who run the world? Girls!” We shout. We always comment on how amazing and beautiful we are and share pictures and stories that make us look put together, on top of our game, and in control (#girlboss)! Unfortunately, this self-sufficient pride can keep us from relying on our true source of power – our Great Deliver!
The Birth Story
As a new mom, I find this to be especially true. I am asked about my birth story quite often and told to wear the badge proudly… I delivered a 9 pound 7 ounce baby after all! Whenever women tell their labor stories, there tends to be an emphasis on what we are capable of, that the female body is powerful and strong. In a way, birth stories have almost become stories of female empowerment and girl power.
But for me labor was far from empowering.
It was humbling.
Humbling to be stripped of my composure as I feared what would come next . Humbling for my pain tolerance to be pushed beyond its limits as I pushed through to the next contraction.
My labor was long, much longer than I had expected. And the little bit of control I had over the experience unraveled after the 24th hour. I was spent. My husband knew it. My mother knew it. And the team of doctors and nurses knew it. I needed their help. It was this need that showed me how shallow my pockets were. I was physically poor, with nothing left to give. The only thing I could do was call on the name of the Lord…. which I did repeatedly and quite loudly. (There is no way my nurses didn’t hear my prayers… or the people down the hall for that matter!) Because in our humility we have nowhere to look but up.
After 33 laborious hours, it was finished. My beautiful daughter was here. And I was exhausted. The hospital staff congratulated me…. “You did it!” They said. But I knew that it wasn’t me. It was God that created my daughter’s life within me. It was God who brought her into this world. God who delivered her. And it is God who delivers us.
Rather than a self-righteous rallying cry for the power of the female body, perhaps the sound of a woman screaming with labor pains should be a reminder that we ourselves are in need of deliverance. We live in a broken, fallen world, groaning itself for the eternal hope of the coming Kingdom.
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." Romans 8:22
To Be Born Again
With an act of deliverance, a baby is born. And it is through this beautiful analogy of new birth that we begin our journey with Christ. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, he tells him that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven he must be born again. And for the poor in spirit? He promises the same reward! Because just as a baby enters this world completely dependent on its mother, we, who are poor in spirit, recognize our complete dependance on our Father.
John Edwards said it blunt and best, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”
We are spiritually bankrupt without Him, helpless on our own. Yet when we surrender our lives to Him, we are surrounded by His love. He lovingly lavishes us with everything we need and more including the promise of eternal life.
“For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,” Jesus promises. We may arrive in this world empty-handed with nothing to give, but if you humbly approach the gates of His Kingdom, you will be warmly welcomed into the rich inheritance of princesses. No longer helpless. No longer poor. In Christ we have been delivered. In Christ we have been given the fullness and the richness of His Kingdom. That’s the blessing of the poor in spirit.
In the coming weeks, we will see our journey unfold through the Beatitudes. As Christian women, we get to participate in what He is doing in our lives and in our world. We don’t sit idly by after we are saved. No. We push through the challenges like a woman in labor, participating in the holy work of sanctification. To mourn over our sin, to be merciful to others, to hunger and thirst for righteousness… as daughters of God we were born to bless and be blessed.
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THE BEATITUDES MELODY
Abigail Houston from Melodically Memorizing wrote and recorded this melody to help us write The Beatitudes across our hearts! We LOVE her ministry and passion for God’s Word! We hope this song blesses you as we memorize this passage throughout the “Blessed are…” Blog Series!
Find her on instagram @melodicallymemorizing
Matthew 5:3-12 [THE BEATITUDES]
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.