As you may recall from the first installment, this road leads to our own “death” which is really another way of saying that it leads to our total surrender to Christ. We have looked at this from different perspectives.
First, as a goal to be attained. Each of us needs to lose ourselves in him so that we might live as Christ upon this earth. We will never see the miracles of Christ nor will we see the “greater works” that he told us about when our own hearts are filled with sin or fear or whatever else may be holding us back.
Secondly, we talked about some of those things that are keeping us from dying to ourselves. You may have noticed that I didn’t dwell on sin, or at least not the more obvious forms of sin. That’s because you already know if you are involved in sin. If you’re cheating on your spouse or involved in pornography or whatever else you think you are hiding from God, you already know this and so does He. We did talk about those things that may be less obvious or that may be causing us to be entrapped by sin in our lives. The unwillingness to forgive is chief among these. We don’t want to acknowledge it as sin because we want to justify its existence in our lives. Somebody hurt us and so we think we have the right to be angry and demand payment. But, we came to find out that in the kingdom of God this is considered “wicked” behavior. It’s wicked because it is sinful as it violates the law of love (see Matt 22:36-40). We also talked about some matters of the heart including how we see ourselves in the kingdom of God. If our view of God is as a master/slave relationship then we are completely missing it. We are no longer slaves, but sons. We are to live in the understanding of our son-ship. A huge price was paid to make us free. A slave asks, “What is thy bidding, master?” while a son says “Hey Dad, I was thinking we should do thus and so. What do you think?” This is because a son is already in tune with the heart of the Father and is eager to see this accomplished. A slave has no such relationship and never will. We also looked at things from a relationship perspective and how those past relational issues can block your relationship with the Father. Specifically, we talked about fear and the inability to trust. We talked about past father issues and how those can shape our perspective, put fear into our hearts, and prevent us from trusting anybody especially God.
Lastly, we came back around to the denial of self where we learned: To deny one’s self utterly and completely leaves nothing for you. You have surrendered it all to him and for him. You are willingly pushing your life aside because you are driven not by a whip on your backside, but by the calling and pursuit of your heart towards His. It is this unending love that from Him that is the pearl of great price. Nothing matters except for your love for him and his great love for you. Because of this love there is complete trust in Him. We also learned that a valid alternate reading of John 14:12 could be: “He who trusts in and is fully reliant upon Me, the works that I do he shall do also, and greater works than these he shall do, because I go to My Father.”
I would like you to go back and re-read the previous installments and re-examine your own heart as you do. What is your heart crying out for? Things? Fame? Recognition? Acceptance? or is your heart crying out for more of Him? Do you want to be involved in ministry for the love and adulation of man? What are you really seeking? Think about these things. What is really in your heart?
Please turn with me to Matthew 5:1-9. Perhaps now you can see this scripture in a new light.
Mat 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain. And when He had sat down, His disciples came to Him. v2 And He opened His mouth and taught them, saying, v3 Blessed are the poor in spirit! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. v4 Blessed are they that mourn! For they shall be comforted. v5 Blessed are the meek! For they shall inherit the earth. v6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness! For they shall be filled. v7 Blessed are the merciful! For they shall obtain mercy. v8 Blessed are the pure in heart! For they shall see God. v9 Blessed are the peacemakers! For they shall be called the sons of God.
Let’s take a look at these verses for a few minutes, starting in verse 3. The word for blessed here is the Greek word makarios. It means to be supremely blessed and happy. But it means more than this. It is a prolonged blessing. I would put it as more of a lifestyle of blessing. Let me put it this way using an old saying that most are familiar with. If you give a man a fish, you are feeding him once (and he is blessed and happy or makar in the Greek). But if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime (and he is supremely BLESSED and HAPPY or makarios in the Greek). In the latter case, the blessing he receives is prolonged. This is what is meant in this section of scripture when Jesus says “Blessed.” Now let’s look at the rest of vs 3. The poor in spirit. The word translated as “poor” (ptōchos) means exactly that. Poor as in really poor, as in abject poverty. But Jesus adds a qualifier. He tells us where this individual is poor. Did you know that you could be really wealthy and still be poor? You could have all kinds of money and not have anyone you can really trust and really not have any true friends. Oh you have people that call themselves friends, that is, until the money runs out. But not any true friend relationships. A person in that kind of situation could be described as being “poor in relationships.” They’re not financially poor but they are relationship poor. We are qualifying where that person is “poor” by adding “in relationships.” This is what Jesus is doing in vs 3 when he adds “in spirit.” Let’s talk about what poor really means here. It doesn’t mean worthless or useless or any of the junk that religion has used in the past to try and define and control people. It means to be lacking or more accurately severely lacking. When you are poor, or severely lacking in the area of food, what is it that you want more than anything? You want what you are lacking. You know you are lacking food. You’re hungry and want to be fed. A new iPhone won’t satisfy you because that’s not what you’re truly lacking. A new TV doesn’t help either. You need food. Real food. That is the only thing that will satisfy because that is what you are lacking when you’re “poor in food.” Those other things are nice, but they really don’t matter when you’re really poor and need food. But in vs 3, what is he referring to? He is referring to being poor in spirit. You know you’re lacking. You know there is more available in the spirit and you want that more than anything. Nothing else will satisfy. Hmm… Does that have a familiar ring to it? Aren’t you denying what you could have in order to get what you REALLY need?
Mat 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. Mat 16:25 For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it. Mat 16:26 For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Isn’t this what we have been talking about? Nothing else matters. The things of this life are meaningless compared to Him and the life He offers. When you are starving and you accept iPhones, TV’s, clothes, shoes or whatever else you want in life, you will die of starvation because you didn’t go after what you really needed, which was food.
For whoever desires to save his life shall lose it, and whoever desires to lose his life for My sake shall find it.
But if we shun those things and go after what we really need, we find life. We find our life in the kingdom of God. Let’s put this verse back together based upon what we’ve learned.
Supremely blessed and happy with a life altering blessing are they that recognize they are severely lacking in the spirit. For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
Now, in case you’re wondering, I don’t think that God wants you in sandals and tie-dyed clothes and handing out trinkets at the airport. He WANTS to bless you. He wants you to have nice things. What he DOESN’T want is those “things” to have you. What has YOUR heart? Are you pursuing Him and His ways or your own?
Mat 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn! For they shall be comforted.
The word used for mourn here is pentheō which means to mourn or to lament or to feel or express sorrow or regret for something. Generally, when we see the word mourn, we think of death. In that sense, when we mourn, we aren’t regretting that someone died as much as we feel the absence of their presence from our lives. In the context of our discussion, whose presence are we missing? Is it not God’s presence? We know he’s always around, but for some reason He seems distant to us. Generally, this means there is a blockage in your relationship and He’s wanting you to dig deep and seek Him with all of your heart. When you do, you will find him and the answer to the blockage. Perhaps you are already aware of what is causing the blockage. Sometimes we’re slow to deal with these things. In this case, you could be mourning or lamenting your own behaviors because you are acutely aware that these are preventing you from sensing His presence in your life. So, are you crying out for Him? Or are you crying because of things you may be doing that prevent you from the relationship you know you could be having with Him? In either case, you shall be comforted either by the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life or by the wooing of the Holy Spirit leading you into repentance which then leads to an increase of His presence in your life. Let’s go back to that word “Blessed.” What does that mean again? It means supremely blessed and happy (prolonged). So, let’s put this verse back together using what we have learned. We could read that scripture like this:
Mat 5:4 Supremely blessed and happy with a life altering blessing are they that mourn and cry out for more of His presence! For they shall be comforted by His presence in their life.
If you find yourself in this place and can’t seem to break through, you may need some help and that’s perfectly okay. Help is available, you just need to ask.
Well, I guess I had more final thoughts than I thought. So, next time we’ll wrap up this topic with Final Thoughts II.