Monday, December 5, 2016

Start Your Week in the Word - Why do Christians say: Blessed?

If you have spent much time in the genial South, you've probably heard "Bless her heart" as a prelude to gossip. It might as well be a curse. God protect this person, and my soul, because I'm about to share something awful, or private, or that may not even be true.



We Christians use the word bless a lot. We bless people when they sneeze to be polite, but it started as salutation to acknowledge that someone had just expelled a demonic presence from their body.

Christians tend to misuse the word bless. To hear us speak, anything with the appearance of good is a blessing, and anything resembling hardship is a lack of blessing.

But that's not actually what the Bible says.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 5:3
What on earth does that mean? Aren't Christians supposed to be rich in spirit; don't you "saved" people claim to be full of the Holy Spirit?

But that's just it. In order to make room for the Holy Spirit, I have to recognize that my own spirit is bankrupt. Without currency. No matter how rich I am by the world's standards, I can't buy property in heaven. I come before God empty and He blesses me by paying my way back to Him. Blessings beyond measure!
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Matthew 5:4
I don't know about you, but I don't like to mourn. I don't want to grieve. Yet the Bible calls it a blessing when I do, because then I can be comforted. Not by friends patting me on the back or dropping off casseroles. By the Holy Ghost. Comfort from within that doesn't tapper off as time passes. That is there no matter what time of day or night, even if I can't utter a sound. Such comfort that Jesus called it a blessing to mourn in order to receive it.
"Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth."
Matthew 5:5
Some translations use the word "meek" in place of gentle. My first thought is "oh great, that wouldn't be me." Take heart, dear strong-willed fellow sojourner! HELPS Word-studies says:
"Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God's strength under His control - i.e. Demonstrating power without undue harshness."
Under His control. With Him, it is possible to be powerfully gentle. Rather than the mousy wall-flower backed into a corner at the high school dance, I picture the woman on the prow of a ship ... steady, unmoved, not afraid of the wind and the waves raging around her. But it isn't the sandwich-board evangelist shouting doom from the street corner at every passerby. For me, it brings to mind a picture a friend posted a couple of years ago. When pro-life protesters in Austin wore red tape over their mouths with the word "LIFE" written on it. With angry insults and indignation swirling in a tempest around them they stood, brave, powerful, and silent. Meek. Gentle.

The beatitudes (as these verses are called) continue and I will wait until next week to explore the rest. For today I leave you with the idea that while the physical provisions we have, the unexpected abundances, the appreciation for hard work, and our families are all blessings ... perhaps we need reminded that the blessings promised in the Bible don't always look quite like that.

If you are in need, feel empty, are mourning, or feel like you aren't doing big, bold things for the kingdom ... take another look through the lens of these verses. Perhaps it isn't that God hasn't blessed you with the answers to your prayers. Perhaps you are blessed because your reward isn't here yet.

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