Climbing the Ladder

Climbing the Ladder

Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount by telling us that we can live a life of victory…a life of fulfillment…a life of significance. That’s the kind of existence God has designed for you. It is not his will that his children live defeated, miserable lives. Today we’ll look at the abundant life that Jesus has promised to each of us. In Matthew 5:1-16 there are three truths about abundant living that I want to look at.

  • GOD PROMISES YOU TRUE HAPPINESS (AND THEN SOME).

Let’s look at the word blessed. The word is makarios (ma KAR ee os). There isn’t a word in the English language that is equivalent to this word. In fact, “Blessed” probably comes closer than any other–which is why we use it.

In the Greek language, makarios communicates the idea of contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, completion, approval by God.

So, when Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who mourn…” and so on, he was saying, “Here are the ingredients that result in absolute contentment, fulfillment and happiness in life.” He was saying “You can be happy in this life…you can be content, you can be fulfilled, you can blessed.”

  • TRUE HAPPINESS COMES IN UNEXPECTED WAYS.

Jesus’ method of happiness is different than what is taught by popular culture. Jesus’ method is the exact opposite. This list is called the beatitudes.

(v. 3) Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

The word translated “poor” means absolute, abject poverty–the poverty of a beggar on the street. And just as a beggar is dependent on the generosity of others, we are to be dependent on God.

“Poor in Spirit” describes the attitude with which we approach God. It is not an attitude that says, “I’m better.

(v. 4) Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Those who recognize that they’re completely helpless without God, and that they have no good in themselves, cannot help but feel sorrow for their own sinfulness. That kind of sorrow is good because it leads to repentance

(v. 5) Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Did you know that the Greek word for “meek” was the same word that was used to describe a horse that had been trained by his master? Meekness doesn’t mean weakness; it means “power under control.” Someone who is meek is strong enough to be gentle, strong enough to be tender, and yet, strong enough to be forceful when necessary.

(v. 6) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Jesus is saying, “If you really want to be good, you’ll become good. If you crave holiness and righteousness like a starving man craves food, you’ll be filled.” When it comes to righteousness and holiness, Jesus says the more you want, the more you’ll get.

(v. 7) Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Be willing to give others a break. You may be right and they may be wrong, but keep this in mind: when you show mercy to others, you heap mercy upon yourself.

(v. 8) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. The Greek words for pure mean to cleanse or purge or purify.  It was used to describe an army that had been “cleansed” of all its cowardly, disgruntled, inefficient soldiers; it is now a “clean” or “pure” army.

Your heart may have been filled with hatred and selfishness and greed at one time–it may even be that way now–but it can be cleansed. It can be made pure. When your heart is pure, you will see God.

(v. 9) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. Some people thrive on conflict. The common characteristic all of these people share is a visible lack of happiness. They aren’t happy and they do all that they can to make sure no one else is.

There are also those who have an amazing capacity for bringing people together. They know how to nip conflict in the bud, and they can make the worst of enemies into the best of friends. If you are a peacemaker–if you dedicate your life to making things calm instead of stirring things up–you will be called one of the “sons of God.”

(v. 10-12) “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Jesus said there will be times when you are mistreated simply because you belong to him. This puts you in good company, because it happened to the prophets of God in the Old Testament, and after Jesus’ death and resurrection, it happened to the Apostles and many leaders of early Christianity, and it has continued to happen to God’s people throughout history.

To whatever extent a follower of Christ experiences persecution, he or she can take joy in the fact that their persecution puts them in an elite group who have done far more to change the world for the better than the persecutors have.

  • TRUE HAPPINESS IS CONTAGIOUS.

Jesus concludes this section by saying, (v. 13) “You are the salt of the earth.” In those days salt wasn’t used for flavoring food as much as it was for preserving food–to keep it from going bad. That’s the role God’s people have always played in society.

Jesus also said, (v. 14) “You are the light of the world.” When we live the way we’re supposed to live, we lead people out of darkness and into the light. For this reason, Jesus said, (v. 16) “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

CONCLUSION

As we look at this list of “bless-eds” we see that happiness comes through surrendering ourselves to God, giving him control of our lives, and serving others with a heart of compassion

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