Have you ever known someone with an attitude? I am talking about a really bad attitude. They were full of themselves. They were boastful and defensive about hurtful things they had said and done to others. Even the smallest of things had to be done their way. It seemed they were only interested in themselves. Have you ever known someone like that? The truth probably is that each of us have had a negative attitude along the way. The next few lessons are about our attitudes toward life. Our attitudes take us into the kingdom, or keep us out of the kingdom that Jesus came to give.
The Sermon on the Mount is the teaching of Jesus about his kingdom. More specifically, it's how to live in his kingdom. It all begins with attitudes. Our attitudes will open the kingdom to us, or our attitudes will keep us from entering the kingdom. Jesus was big on attitudes of the heart. We will take a look at these attitudes that God will bless over the next few weeks.
Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We saw last time that the first word of the kingdom is "Blessed." It's the smile of God upon those with these attitudes. "Blessed are the poor in spirit . . ." Entrance into the kingdom cannot happen as long as a person is full of their self. That is the wrong attitude. The Bible says that God will resist or oppose the proud, but give grace to the humble (Jam 4:6). The first thing that must happen is we realize how empty our lives are without Jesus.
". . . for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The kingdom of heaven is accessible now. The reward for realizing our need for God is the kingdom of heaven. We have access to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We begin a blessed life.
Today I want to look at three more Beautiful Attitudes. I wish to first look at the attitude upon which God will smile and bless. Then I want to look at the reward for that attitude.
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are they that mourn . . .
So actually the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and sadness, right? And God loves a cheerless giver. And the sadness of the Lord is our strength, right? We know better than that. What does it mean? The Greek word translated "mourn" is pentheo (Strong's #3996) and means "to mourn for, lament one." We don't get a lot of help from the Greek. About what should believers mourn? I think the answer is in seeing over what Jesus mourned.
Jesus mourned about sin. He wept about the sins of Jerusalem. He was moved with compassion as he observed the effects of sin upon people. This was so obvious that some thought he was Jeremiah the prophet raised from the dead (Mat 16:14). Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet and the author of the Lamentations. Father God expects his sons and daughters to mourn about sin. Do we mourn over our regions? Jesus mourned when Lazareth died (Joh 11:35). Do we mourn when our friends go through bad times?
We need to mourn about our own sins. A person who has been born again will mourn about their sins. I recall immediately after my born again experience that I experienced a deep mourning about things I had done. I had offended God and I had offended people. There was one person that I had injured so badly that I could not rest until I asked him to forgive me. I realized the eternal effects of my sin.
Sin has eternal consequences. David sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba. That had eternal affects. David had Uriah, Bathsheba's husband killed. Uriah was not allowed to have children or leave a lineage in the earth. Sin has eternal consequences. Sin destroys homes. Sin destroys lives.
Let's list some sins that have eternal effects and consequences. Lust, anger, greed, gossiping, and slander are a few. Here is what the apostle Paul said.
Galatians 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
Galatians 5:20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
Galatians 5:21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If there is no mourning about sin, we will never stop sinning. If there is no mourning about sin, there is no entering the kingdom of heaven. Sin should bother us deeply. If it doesn't, there is a serious problem. That is the attitude required for entering and living in the kingdom.
Something is wrong with someone who enjoys injuring people. Something is seriously wrong with someone who enjoys saying and doing hurtful and mean things about and to people.
One more thought on this. There is a difference between mourning about sin and being sorry. When we mourn, we change. There have been times when I was sorry, but never changed. When I truly mourn, I change.
. . . for they shall be comforted.
The comfort is immediate. Once we recognize our sin and mourn, there is immediate comfort. This is shown us in the story of the prodigal son. He sinned. He recognized his sin and mourned. He was immediately comforted.
Luke 15:21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
Luke 15:22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Luke 15:23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.
Luke 15:24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
"QUICK!" Immediately the father brought comfort to the child. The Father smiles, runs to kiss, approves, and immediately blesses us when we mourn about our sins. That is the attitude God will bless. Please notice that the "comfort" was not only a hug and a kiss. It was jewelry, clothes, great meals, celebration, etc. Father will bless us quickly if we mourn about sin.
Do we mourn about sin? Do we have a clue to sins' eternal consequences? Do we simply get angry at a person who sins or hurts us, or do we mourn for them? What about personal sins? Does our sin bother us? Do we understand its eternal consequences upon our lives and the lives of others?
Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Jesus was the master of the paradox. His entire kingdom is a paradox. The last is first, giving is receiving, dying is living, losing is finding, least is greatest, poor is rich, weakness is strength, and serving is ruling. This beautiful attitude of the meek inheriting the earth is a paradox. It is not the powerful, but the meek who shall inherit the earth.
Jesus and Pilate stood face to face as a living paradox. Pilate represented power. Jesus represented meekness. The person representing meekness inherited everything. The one representing power could not control even his own soul. The beautiful attitudes contravene and override what the world sees as truth. It's not the powerful who inherit the earth. It is the meek. Yet amazingly, the last thing a man wants to be known for is his meekness. One of the most difficult things for a man to be is meek. However, it is the meek that God will bless.
Blessed are the meek . . .
What does being meek actually mean? The Greek word is praus (Strong's #4239) and means "mildness of disposition." Some translations translate it as gentleness which is not entirely accurate. First, meekness is not weakness. It is because of the closeness of the sound of the words that we associate meek and weak. Gentleness tends to make one think about weakness - peace at any cost. That is not the ways of Jesus. Jesus was not a coward, timid, and want peace at any cost.
Meekness is a controlled disposition - controlled spirit. It is a person in control of their emotions. A meek man can cry at the death of a friend (Joh 11:35) and over the sins of a city. Yet, a meek man can overturn the tables of moneychangers and chase people with a whip (Joh 2:15). Meekness is strength under control! A meek person is a person with strength under control. A meek person is hard as steel, but soft as cotton. A meek person is as solid as concrete, but as mushy as water. A person with a spirit like that is smiled upon by Father, approved by Father, and blessed by Father. That person lives in the kingdom.
The person who easily loses control is not in God's kingdom. That person should take a serious look at his or her salvation.
. . . for they shall inherit the earth.
The word "they" in ". . . for they shall inherit the earth" is emphatic. It means they and only they shall inherit the earth. No tyrant will ever inherit the earth. No Hitler, no Empire of Japan, no Sadam Husaine, no bin Laden, will ever inherit anything but hell. No antichrist will ever inherit the earth. The earth belongs to the Lord (Psa 24:1; 1Co 10:26) and he will only give it to the meek. Isn't it interesting that many doctrines teach the earth will be burned to a crisp? The Lord says he wants to give it to the meek as an inheritance.
What does "inherit the earth" mean to those in the kingdom? Simply, it means that we can have anything we want. "The sky is the limit" for the believer. Nothing is impossible with God. If we want it and our hearts are filled with these blessed attitudes Jesus taught, we can have it. It all goes back to our hearts - our attitudes. Our hearts are our only limitations.
How are we with this attitude that God will bless? Are we strength in control or out of control? Are we like Pilate thinking we control? Or, are we like Jesus with our emotions and strength in control. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
It is a fact. We are what we eat and drink. Too much fat filled food will produce a fat filled body. Too much adult beverage will produce a pickled liver. It's that way with the kingdom of God. We can't have the kingdom unless we hunger and thirst for righteousness. If we feed on violence, materialism, erotica, and extravagance, we will eventually personify them. If we feed on the things of God's kingdom, we will eventually personify it. We will be filled of whatever we eat.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness . . .
Our physical health greatly depends upon our eating healthy foods. Our spiritual health depends upon what we feed our spirits. For example, the books we read, movies we watch, people we talk with, etc. all put good and bad stuff inside of us.
We all know how it feels to be hungry and thirsty. Once I had gone fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. I took a cooler, but had neglected to place drinks and ice in the cooler. It was very hot and I became very thirsty. There was a boat anchored close to me fishing. I asked them if they had some ice they could put in a bag and throw to me. They said they did, but offered a bottle of water. I eagerly accepted. I opened and turned the bottle up and gulped down nearly the entire bottle before I stopped. I was thirsty. How thirsty are we for righteousness? Jesus is offering us living water to quench our thirst.
What is righteousness? For what is it exactly that we should hunger and thirst? It is hungering and thirsting to live in conformity to God's will. It is an unquenchable desire for God and for his approval. It is having one area in my life that needs to conform to his will and after adjusting that area, I find another area to conform and then another and another. It is never having enough of God's righteousness.
I remember when I first came into the kingdom of God. I could not get enough of Jesus. I had this unquenchable hunger and thirst for his word and his Spirit. I was a "Jesus freak," a "holy-roller," a "fanatic." Some of you remember being like that. You wanted it all. You gorged on the Bible, books, tapes, and anything that fed you Jesus. You thirsted for his Spirit. Have we continued to hunger for him? Personally, it's when I am not hungering and thirsting that I become concerned. Yes, I know. Preachers are supposed to be hungering and thirsting all the time. We want you to think that, but it's not true. There are sometimes that I must take a look at my attitude concerning this. When I do and I adjust my attitude, he always fills me.
. . . for they shall be filled.
How can a person hunger and thirst and yet be filled? This is another paradox of Christ. It's a spiritual cycle. As I mentioned earlier, I fill as much as possible with his righteousness in one area of my life, but find another that needs filling. It's like eating supper. Yesterday I ate and was filled, but today I will eat and be filled again. If I stop eating I will die. So is it with the spiritual. Every day we eat. Every day we are filled. We become a victim of malnutrition if we don't.
Jesus said a weird statement in John 6. He had fed the multitudes with fish and bread. Then he said this.
John 6:52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
John 6:53 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
John 6:54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.
John 6:56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.
Are we hungry for him? Do we hunger for his flesh - his word? Are we thirsting for his blood - his Spirit? Where is your appetite for him today? Within what I have just said is a secret to fasting. Can we put away all other appetites and hunger and thirst for him?
Jesus said to his disciples,
Luke 22:29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me,
Luke 22:30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom . . .
Jesus is offering us a kingdom. He has set the table. However, it requires correct attitudes to enter. God will bless us and fill us. He will take a few fish and a few loaves of bread and feed us more than we can handle.
How hungry are we today? How thirsty are we today?
The kingdom begins with attitudes. How are we doing? Do we have the attitudes of Jesus or just have an attitude?