The title above was the question posed by our pastor in the beginning of his sermon today. The sermon was based on Matthew 5:1-12, also known as "The Sermon on the Mount" and "The Beatitudes". You probably remember them starting out as "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven..." and so on and so forth...
How would you answer the question, "I will be happy when..."? Some people might answer with things like, "when I can retire...", "When I can pay off these debts...", When I grow up and can do what I want...", "When I can get out on my own"... "When I can buy a new house, or car, or whatever we think we need..."
The "Beatitudes" listed in verses 1-11 all start out with "Blessed are...". Some versions say "Happy are" instead of "Blessed". "Happy are the poor in spirit?"..."Happy are those that mourn?"....
"Happy are the meek?" "Happy are those that hunger and thirst?" "Happy are the merciful?" "Happy are the pure in heart?" "Happy are the peacemakers?" "Happy are the persecuted?"
I wonder how many of us would have filled in the blank on the original question,
- "I will be happy when..." with,
- "when I am poor in spirit,
- or when I am mourning,
- or when I am meek,
- or when I am hungry and thirsty,
- or merciful,
- pure in heart,
- a peacemaker,
- or when I am persecuted???"
It is kind of an upside down way of looking at our own "set of rules". We think the blessed or happy are the rich, the strong, the winners, those who get their hunger and thirst fed at the best restaurants in town, etc., and not the other way around.
But Jesus said that we are blessed when we are poor in spirit, because ours will be the kingdom of heaven...
The word "poor" in the Greek translates to "abject poverty". True poverty is a cruel thing. Those who live in poverty long for a bit of kindness. They crave a bit of dignity.
The poor in spirit bring nothing in their hands that God needs...
- they come in their brokenness hoping to be mended
- they come in their sin hoping to be forgiven
- they come in their grief hoping to be comforted
- they come in their illness hoping to be healed