Since Jesus came to restore everything broken by sin, Jesus’ teaching of kingdom life is counter intuitive. It is a picture of the godly attitudes that reflect God’s original intent for human life. These redeemed attitudes grow from recovering biblical perspective, looking at life from God’s point of view. Jesus begins each beatitude with the word, “blessed” which is the Greek word MAKARIOS. The word blessed is a bit misleading. It sounds so holy, as if this is a monk or nun’s religious way of life that pleases God but otherwise leads to human misery. But nothing could be further from the truth. It IS THE WAY OF LIFE THAT PLEASES GOD, but it does not lead to MISERY but to PRESENT FULFILLMENT.
The parents of a sophomore college coed opened a letter from her that shocked them. It said,
Dear Mom and Dad,
Just thought I’d drop you a note to clue you in on my plans. I’ve fallen in love with a man named Jim. He quit high school after grade eleven to get married. About a year ago, he got a divorce. We’ve been “in a relationship” for two months, and plan to get married in the fall. Until then I’ve decided to move into his apartment. (I think I might be pregnant). At any rate, I dropped out of school last week, although I’d like to finish college sometime in the future.
On the next page she continued: “Mom and Dad, I just want you to know that everything I’ve written so far in this letter is false. NONE of it is true. But Mom and Dad, it IS true that I got a C- in French and flunked Math…It IS true that I’m going to need some more money.” What a brilliant girl. She made the BAD NEWS that she flunked math, got a C- in French, and was out of money sound like GOOD NEWS—she wasn’t pregnant and dropping out of school. Your perspective determines your attitude. If, as I start to cross a city street, I get shoved to the pavement and fall down tearing my suit pants, my attitude will be fury, until a second later, I see a car fly past who ran the red light in the lane I was stepping into. Then my fury becomes profound gratefulness. My attitude changed because my perspective changed. As we complete this series on developing the tough-minded attitudes that Jesus exhibited throughout his life, we realize that the key to godly attitudes is having the right perspective. The biblical term for this right perspective is wisdom. Wisdom is looking at life from Gods point of view. It is seeing how God designed life to best function. No wonder God says, “Nothing you desire compares with wisdom.”
When we look at what God says to us about the value of wisdom in just Proverbs 3, alone, it is hard to envision any way God could state his case more forcefully: Blessed is a person who finds wisdom, and one who obtains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her produce better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire compares with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are those who hold on to her. (vs 13-18).
What could possibly be more valuable than understanding how God designed human life to work? “In fact,” says God, “the same unchangeable principles that shape human relational, emotional, and spiritual life actually existed before God designed the physical world and guided the creative process.” In Proverbs 8, wisdom personified cries out, “The Lord created me at the beginning of His way before His works of old. From eternity I was established from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no ocean depths, I was born, when there were no springs abounding with water.” Surely God’s point is that the wisdom of God for the moral, spiritual, relational world is as unchanging and certain as are the laws of nature. Imagine understanding everything about how relationships work, everything. Or everything about how the conscience works, how guilt destroys, how forgiveness frees, how the conscience suppresses the truth. Imagine knowing everything about the heart, its motivations, emotions, and the thought process. Why do we not devote ourselves to the treasure trove of God’s wisdom? Why do we not listen to the urging of God,
Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you she will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown (Prov 4:5-9).
We Fail to Grasp How Broken Our Spiritual Vision Is
The starting point for obtaining wisdom is humility. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but WITH THE HUMBLE IS WISDOM (Prov 11:2). Humility is recognizing my spiritual poverty. It is recognizing that my sin has darkened my understanding (Eph 4) and causes me to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1). It is agreeing with Proverbs 14:2, There is a way THAT SEEMS RIGHT to a man, but its end is the way to death. This truth is so important that God repeats it word for word in Proverbs 16:25.
True humility further leads to the “fear of the Lord.” This biblical concept is not being afraid of God; it is being afraid to break his moral law because we know we will never get away with it. The fear of the Lord is knowing that He is so weighty, so awesome, that no one gets away with sin, ever. God is not such a lightweight that He can be mocked. “Do not be deceived,” Paul wrote to the Galatians, “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (6:7-8). It is this certainty that the laws of the moral, spiritual world are fixed which leads to wisdom. The fear of the Lord is instruction in WISDOM, and humility comes before honor. (Prov 15:33). It is the humility that says, “I must adjust to life the way God has designed it to be—which is a reflection of his unchanging moral nature.” The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil (Prov 8:13). The fear of the Lord recognizes that evil destroys. Our darkened understanding takes us down the path of destruction. Wisdom, the only corrective to a darkened understanding cries out,
I have insight; I have strength. By me kings reign and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. I love those who love me, and THOSE WHO SEEK ME DILIGENTLY FIND ME. Riches and honor are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold…my yield than choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries (Prov 8:14-21).
Jesus’ Wisdom Teaching: The Beatitudes
Since Jesus came to restore everything broken by sin, Jesus’ teaching of kingdom life is counter intuitive. It is a picture of the godly attitudes that reflect God’s original intent for human life. These redeemed attitudes grow from recovering biblical perspective, looking at life from God’s point of view. Jesus begins each beatitude with the word, “blessed” which is the Greek word MAKARIOS. The word blessed is a bit misleading. It sounds so holy, as if this is a monk or nun’s religious way of life that pleases God but otherwise leads to human misery. But nothing could be further from the truth. It IS THE WAY OF LIFE THAT PLEASES GOD, but it does not lead to MISERY but to PRESENT FULFILLMENT. One NT scholar writes,
The meaning of MAKARIOS can best be seen by one particular usage of it. The Greeks always called Cyprus he makaria (the feminine form of the adjective), which means The Happy Isle.