Keeping The Law On The Way To Eternity

If you’re a Christian, it’s a good bet you’ve read and/or heard the Sermon on the Mount more than once. And if you’re like me, you probably think you’re pretty familiar with this straight-forward message Jesus delivered during His time here on earth. But in a sermon a few weeks back, the speaker said something that prompted me to take a deeper look.

I hadn’t thought before about what a radical message this must have seemed when first preached. Matthew even tells us people who heard Jesus were “astonished at his doctrine” (Matt. 7:28, KJV). Throughout Jesus’ words a message is woven that tells us our human way of looking at things is wrong. Something that makes no sense to us might be exactly what God is looking for, and the things we’d consider reasonable might not be what He wants at all. This sermon is about showing us a new way of thinking and living.Keeping The Law On The Way To Eternity | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Questions Of Law

Following the Beatitudes (which we talked about last week), Jesus describes people who follow Him as salt and light. All the attributes described earlier are meant to be visible in His people, showing the world good works that will cause them to “glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mat. 5:16, WEB). Jesus then makes a statement about how His teachings relate to the Old Testament Law and Prophets. People often like to take Paul out of context and say Christians today have nothing to do with the Law, but that’s not what Jesus (or Paul, for that matter) taught. Continue reading

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A Closer Look At The Beatitudes

When Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, He began at what we now call the Beatitudes. He says, “Blessed are” the sort of people who probably don’t feel all that blessed — those who are poor, mourning, meek, hungry and thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted, and reviled. We don’t like being poor, or in grief, or humble enough to put others first, or attacked by the people around us. It’s hard work being a peacemaker, or showing mercy, or staying pure of heart, or constantly yearning to get closer to God’s righteousness.

It’s interesting that two of the beatitudes mention righteousness: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness” and “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matt. 5:6, 10, KJV). This word refers to “the condition acceptable to God” and/or “the doctrine concerning the way which man may attain a state of approval by God” (Thayer’s G1343, dikaiosune). It relates to our state of being and the way we live. In fact, when you think about it, all the beatitudes relate to something we do and/or become as we follow God.

We Need A Relationship

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:3, KJV)

There’s more than one word that could be translated from Greek as “poor.” This one means “reduced to beggary” and “lacking anything” (Thayer’s G4434, ptochos). When we’re like that in our spirits, we’re really in a place to recognize how much we need a relationship with the Father and Jesus. We become the sort of person the Lord is talking about when He says, “to this man will I look, even to he who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at my word” (Is. 66:2, WEB).

We Have Broken Hearts

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Matt. 5:4, KJV)

We all experience grief. The death of a parent, child, or dear friend. The loss of a hope held close to our hearts. The decay of a relationship. Betrayal from a friend. And even in the midst of that mourning, we’re blessed because God promises comfort (John 14:16-18; 2 Cor. 1:3-7). He can respond to our tears as powerfully as He did for David in the situation recorded in Psalm 6. Continue reading

Redefining Meekness

Redefining Meekness marissabaker.wordpress.comThere are several words the Bible uses to describe Godly character that have a bad reputation in today’s society. Take “meekness” for example. If you ask Google for a definition, the first result says “quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.” An even shorter way to put this would be “doormat.” If asked, the typical person today would probably agree with Mordred (from the musical Camelot) that “it’s not the earth the meek inherit, it’s the dirt.”

When Jesus said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,” was He really talking about the same trait we just defined? Though we do see from scripture that gentleness and submission are admirable qualities, what we do not see is the “easily imposed upon” weakness that our modern definitions for meekness carry.

Greek for Meek

The Greek word translated “meek” in the Beatitudes is from a word family that includes praos (G4235), praotes (G4236), praus (G4239), prautes (G4240). In the discussion of G4240, Zodhiates says the words refer to “an inwrought grace of the soul, and the expressions of it are primarily toward God.” Furthermore, he writes,

Prautes, according to Aristotle, is the middle standing between two extremes, getting angry without reason (orgilotes), and not getting angry at all (aorgesia). Therefore, prautes is getting angry at the right time, in the right measure, and for the right reasons. Prautes is not readily expressed in Eng. (since the term “meekness” suggests weakness), but it is a condition of the mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness, but in power.

Wow. That’s not at all like the English-language idea of meekness. This is strength of character that balances our emotions and helps establish our relationship with God. In the discussion of number 4236, Zodhiates adds,

It is the acceptance of God’s dealings with us considering them as good in that they enhance the closeness of our relationship to Him. … It is not the result of weakness, and in the third Beatitude it expresses not the passivity of the second Beatitude, but the activity of the blessedness that exists in one’s heart from being actively angry at evil.

Active Meekness

"Redefining Meekness" marissabaker.wordpress.comPrior to reading these definitions, my idea of meekness did not include gentleness demonstrated in power or activity against evil. No wonder these words are used to describe Jesus Christ (Matt. 11:29Matt. 21:5; 2 Cor. 10:1). With such an example to follow, Paul instructs Timothy to pursue meekness (1 Tim. 6:11), women are told a “meek and quiet spirit” is valued in the eyes of God (1 Pet. 3:4), and the church is expected to relate to other people with a spirit of meekness (Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:25; Tit. 3:2; 1 Pet. 3:15).

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph. 4:1-3, KJV)

Meekness is a necessary attribute for God’s people, but not quite in the way the world views it. Godly meekness is a strong character attribute that we must cultivate if we are going to become like Jesus Christ (Col. 3:12). It is anger at the right time for the right reason, but expressed in a gentle way that helps others instead of tearing them down. It is aceptence of God’s work in our lives that humbly says, “Not my will, but your’s be done.”

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. (James 3:13)