Blog

Apr
04
BLESSED. The hypocrisy of it!

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On a recent trip I lost one of my all-time favorite hats. It was a black, bedazzled ball cap embroidered with the claim “Blessed Beyond Measure.” I loved it, not only because it turned a bad hair day into a cute hair day, but it told the world that I felt exceedingly blessed.

Liar.

I am studying the Gospel of Luke and, by no coincidence, I was approaching the “Beatitudes” when I found myself lamenting the loss of my hat. Coming to Luke 6:20, the word “Blessed” jumped off the page.

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20; NASB)

Startled, I realized how quick I was to tell people I’m “blessed” when I hadn’t really considered what that meant. The Greek word that Luke uses for “blessed” means “happy.” The Hebrew equivalent provides further dimension, implying bliss and/or satisfaction. As used by Jesus then, “blessed” means to be blissfully happy...supremely content.

Does that describe me? On most days... no. I have had moments of happiness… even blissful happiness from time to time. But do I exist in a constant state of supreme contentment? How I wish I could say yes.

Anyone who knows me well has heard me say, “I just feel so far from happy… I can’t wait until I finally arrive at happy.” I have long projected my happiness into the realm of “if”… if I were more financially secure, then I would be content. Or, if I had a husband to share my life, then I would be blissfully happy. Or, if my ministry was bigger… or my waistline was smaller…then I would finally be satisfied.

But that’s not what Jesus, the Creator of “happy” is saying. He defines the true state of being happy or “blessed” not by where we are but by who (make that whose) we are.

"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

The Greek noun for “poor” in this verse means “beggar.” Certainly, the materially impoverished are in view here. Some of the happiest people I have ever known are Christ-followers in third world countries. With little more than nothing, they know that they are wholly and completely dependent on God for everything. And that translates into enviable bliss.

But Matthew adds further dimension to Jesus’ statement.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:3, NASB)

The truly blessed people in this world are spiritual beggars... people who recognize they have nothing to offer God. In turn, they seek Him with humility and satisfaction, knowing He will supply their every need.

And note the verb tense in Jesus’ statement: “... for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In the majority of beatitudes, Christ sets our expectations in the future.

... they shall be comforted.

... they shall inherit the earth.

... they shall be satisfied.

etc

But He uses the present tense in the first beatitude. Complete dependence on Him in the here and now translates into present-day happy! We all expect to be deliriously happy when we get to heaven. But Jesus is saying that we don’t have to wait… we don’t have to project true happiness into the future. Eternally existent, supreme contentment is available now, if we will just trust that He knows our needs better than we do, and that He will meet those needs in ways we cannot.

I know… much easier to say than to do in a world that turns on fortune, fame and power. But in light of recent headlines and what you know now about blessedness, do you think Prince was truly "blessed"? How about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? Do they seem supremely content? Blissfully happy? Something to ponder… not in order to cast judgment on their lives, but to get new perspective on our own.

My favorite place in the world is the wilderness of Israel. Stark and desolate, nothing can grow on its own in the vast desert expanse south of Jerusalem. Survival in the wilderness requires complete dependence on God. And I have never known a place where I feel more alive. I can certainly see myself wearing my “Blessed Beyond Measure” hat there (if anyone finds it, please let me know :).

In the meantime, I have a second “Blessed” hat (one with more subtlety and no bling). I have wondered if I should hang it up until I can wear it with authenticity. Admittedly, I am not yet supremely content with the life God has given to me. But, I have decided to don the ball cap anyway… not to tell people that I have a great life, but to remind myself that I have a great God and without Him, I have and am nothing.

O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
(Psalm 34:8, NASB)