Sunday, January 22, 2012

Check Your Attitudes

And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: "Blessed [are] the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:1-3 NKJV

Over the course of my life, there have been many occasions where I was required to attend training seminars of one type or another in order to further my professional education. Im sure most of you have experienced something similar be it school or job related. Something they all have in common is that generally speaking, there is usually an outline either verbal or written that is presented at the very beginning in order for all to understand what it is all about and what is expected of you.

I find it interesting then to see that when Jesus begins His ministry on earth, He does the very same thing in this portion of scripture which we call the Beatitudes. I also found it very interesting that the subject He wants to discuss with us is not what we are expected to do, but rather what we are expected to be. If you look closely at what Jesus teaches here you will find that the very first thing He requires from us is the proper “attitudes” in order to “be” a follower of Christ. In other words, He lists for us the “Be-attitudes”.

Now in case you ever wondered, I'm the sort of person that always asks the question “why”? Although I know there is always a reason for something, I have always wanted to know what it was in order to better understand. I'm sure many of us as believers can think back to when we first decided we wanted to serve Christ and do whatever we could to be a witness for Him. I'm also fairly certain that at that point we were all thinking about service, or the “doing” part of ministry. Yet here Jesus tells us that the very first thing we need to concern ourselves with is our character. Why? I believe what He is trying to tell us is that conduct is a result of our character, and not the other way around.

Considering these are the very first words Jesus shares with us as He begins His ministry, I think we should take a much closer look at them than we may have done in the past.

Blessed is the Greek word makario, which simply means happy. When I saw this my first thought was “how appropriate”. If you took a poll and asked the question “what do you want most in this life”, how many people do you think would answer “happiness”? We all want to be happy in this life and the first thing Jesus addresses is how to achieve that.

He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy [is] he.
Proverbs 16:20 NKJV

Poor in spirit. These two words used together give the idea of someone who is completely destitute spiritually. In other words, this phrase describes someone who recognizes their spiritual deficiencies, understands that by their own efforts they can accomplish nothing, and is willing to admit they need the spiritual assets that only God can provide.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but [how] to perform what is good I do not find.
Romans 7:18 NKJV

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. To me, this is the most exciting part of this verse, and that is because of the promise it makes. Often this is understood to be simply a promise of salvation, yet if you examine it in light of the context, what we are being promised here is much more than that. This is a promise from Jesus that if we believe and are “poor in spirit” we will be “blessed” with all that is available to us in this life which comes from the kingdom of Heaven. As believers we have access to things from the kingdom provided to us from God not only for our benefit, but to help us serve Him in sharing the message of the Kingdom of God with an unbelieving world.

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 NKJV

The first thing Jesus teaches us is that our attitudes will determine what we do. As believers our character must conform to the example we have been given by the life of the Son of God. The character of a believer is what determines their conduct, and our conduct is the biggest witness we have for Jesus. Do you have the attitude that you have much that you can bring to the table? According to this verse, acknowledging how spiritually poor we are is the first step to happiness, and having access to all that is available from God. Have you checked your “be-attitudes” lately?

Keep watching.