Agonizomai: Do You Need A Beatitude Adjustment?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do You Need A Beatitude Adjustment?




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So often we look at scripture and see that we shall be blessed if we would only do something obedient. The tithe is good example of this. If we are obedient in giving a tenth of our income then God will open the windows of heaven and pour out His blessings. All of God’s commands and precepts work in a similar way. His blessing is in the doing, just as His curse is upon the disobedience.

But when Jesus spoke of blessings He put the credit where it is really due. He brought us to the next level of appreciation. He brought us to the fullness of grace upon grace. It is no longer a question of our performing in order to obtain a blessing, but of simply receiving through faith the blessing that grace pours out. Now, God is recognized not only as the dispenser of the blessing, but the originator of the act that allowed it to flow from the throne of grace. All circumstances in God’s providence for His people are a blessing – including those in which He has brought about the obedience of our faith.

In the Beatitudes we see that it is the poor in spirit who are blessed by their condition. Blessed are the poor in spirit – not blessed will be the poor in spirit for making themselves lowly. God ordained poverty of spirit for them, and that ordaining act was the blessing in which they would be freed walk in the kingdom.

Similarly, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are not credited with working up such a pious attitude. They are described as having been blessed with the attitude that will see them filled.

All of the other Beatitudes can be seen in the same light. The blessing precedes and is the cause of the result. It is the poverty of spirit, the mourning for sin, the meekness, the hungering and thirsting for righteousness, the mercifulness, the purity of heart, the peacemaking disposition that are themselves the blessing of God, given by grace. They are the characteristics of God Himself.

But God is a God of superabundance. To those who have shall more be given, but to those who have not shall be taken away even that which they have. So, when God blesses by giving a person that part of His own character that mourns for sin, He adds blessing upon blessing by also giving the comfort that is in Christ.

Try another one. When God purifies the heart of a person by sanctifying him, God makes Himself more visible to that person. That person sees God more and more clearly as the distortions of sin are brushed away. Filled up, pressed down and running over. Grace upon grace.

By embracing this understanding of God’s sovereign grace we
can come to a heartfelt acceptance of the last two Beatitudes. These are the harder ones. The ones that speak of being persecuted and falsely accused for Jesus’ sake. Such things are called a blessing and even a reason for rejoicing. But, in our Christian infancy, some of us may have thought that the Beatitudes spoke of rewards for the self-improvement we struggled to attain in order to please God. And when we came to these last two there was a full stop. We were not ready to go quite that far yet. We wanted the credit for being meek and mournful but not the responsibility of diving into persecution for Jesus’ sake.

It was due to a misunderstanding of the sovereignty of God. We didn’t realize that God could bring us to the point where we would rejoice in being persecuted for His name’s sake. We didn’t have to work it up, to steel ourselves, to grit our teeth. God has appointed us unto good works that He prepared before hand that we should walk in them. He will bring it to pass if He has ordained it. And there are times when a healthy fear of what He can do is not a bad thing.

But the truly great thing is that as we are blessed to be called, chosen and fitted by God for these things, we will receive the double blessing of knowing more fully our inheritance and co-heirship in all that is God’s in Christ. No one will be called to suffer persecution whom God has not already fitted for it. And no one will be called to such things without the sense of the great blessing that God has created for them through the suffering itself.

The martyrs, to a man (and woman), were given a martyr’s grace. They were made like Jesus Who, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame. In fact, it was the joy and courage, the peace and assurance of Jesus Himself in these people that brought them all the way home. This is the sense in which Jesus promised that not a hair of our heads would perish.

So the Beatitudes are not a series of commanded behaviours that God will reward if we perform them. They are a list of the characteristics of Jesus, which He imparts to His people freely by grace, as a blessing from which both the behaviour and further blessings flow. And they are given so that we will come to just such an understanding, through faith.

What a God we serve! He not only gives life, but gives it more abundantly. He not only blesses, but fills up, presses down and overflows. What has God blessed you with? Has He made you hunger for Him? Has He humbled you? Has He convicted you of sin so that your heart is breaking? Has He subjected you to ridicule for His Name’s sake? Then bless His Holy name for His grace in doing these things in you so that you can also receive the reward that He brings with Him – both in the here and now and in the sweet by and by.



3 Comments:

Blogger Derek Ashton said...

Beautiful.

8:33 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...

Derek,

Thanks. I was hoping you'd be blessed by this somehow.

Looking back yesterday while I recorded it, I came to see that this was when I finally moved from a law governed to grace governed relationship with God.

Was it a moment of conversion or simply a moment of growth? It's a bit of a paradox for me.

Blessings,


Tony

8:54 pm  
Blogger LOVEthought said...

Wow.

10:43 am  

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