[Written June 25, 2011]
I love how God works. I am learning that if I put the effort in to acquire knowledge (grammar), God will make connections that lead to understanding (dialectic) and wisdom (rhetoric). From a simple dedication to read to my children because it is good for them, to the addition of audio books to our regimen, which then prompted me to borrow Shabrail’s iPod to the listening of the seminars from NCHE to an explanation of the beatitudes from Matthew chapter five, God has been making very clear and strong connections in my life. He is lifting me higher and higher through His grace.
Since the NCHE convention, I have dedicated myself to reading a Lamplighter book after the evening meal. A realization came to me: I should also do an evening devotional with my family. (Ok, duh!?!) My first idea was to try and look on my bookshelves for a book on family devotionals. I also considered purchasing one, but also wondered what topic I should choose. A realization came to me: why don’t I just go to the source document, like DeMille spoke of in “Thomas Jefferson Education.” (Double duh!?!). I decided that I would just start at the beginning of the New Testament, at Jesus sort of first mass teaching to the crowds.
We talked a few nights about each verse individually and had a great discussion. On the third night, Vanessa became frustrated with the words, “blessed are the gentle.” She didn’t think it possible that she could be gentle. But there is a blessing with being gentle, I told her. Impossible, she said. A realization came to me: she can’t. It really is impossible, for and for me and for everyone. I brought her back to the first beatitude which said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” We are all incapable of being gentle; or kind; or patient; or loving; et cetera. Seeing her frustration, and feeling frustrated as well that she didn’t want to try to be gentle, as I saw it, and then seeing the connection of the between the scripture, really encouraged that we could do this from the original source! This is how education has occurred from the very beginning, so why not now?
As I continued to thirst for education, I started to listen to the mp3’s purchased from the NCHE convention. In one particular seminar from Mark Hamby, he spoke about Matthew five and the beatitudes, connecting the string together as a progression of spiritual growth. It was incredible! I saw clearly how Jesus was teaching the people, and that God was working in our family, in that I had started at these beatitudes.
Next, I would like to discuss the beatitudes and their application:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit. Do I realize this everyday? Am I spiritual? Do I love only those who love me?
- Knowing this, it should make me mourn. Yes, I can’t really control anger, or lust, or pride. Yes, it pops up like unsinkable buoys in my soul. Yes, I have no real power over it all. Am I willing to let this really through to my heart…or would I rather medicate it? Do I apply a worldly balm, a temporary amusement here or outburst of anger there, to distract from this most severe truth?
- Will I submit to God? Will I become meek? But isn’t meekness weakness? Do I really need to let everybody walk all over me in order to be spiritual? According to Dictionary.com, there are three definitions for this word:
- Humbly patient or docile, as under provocation from others. This is not really what people think of when they think of meek. Provocation is something that incites, instigates, angers, or irritates. Will I be patient during God’s provocation against me? This realization just came to me, actually. It is very irritating to know and understand that I, simply put, suck. I suck quite badly. It is God who shows us, provokes us, not to condemn, but in truth. If I were to really let that hit my heart, it can and does make me very angry. Will I be patient about it? Can I accept it?
- Overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame. This is probably the most common understanding of the word. I might add another: spineless. But, I don’t believe, is what Jesus is talking about. I have been taught that one example of meekness is a knight’s warhorse: it is powerful but is tame and submits to the commands of his master.
- Obsolete. Gentle; kind. It is interesting that many translations use gentle instead of meek, and this dictionary source calls it obsolete. I am not a Hebrew/Greek scholar, but “gentle” fails to communicate what I believe Jesus is trying to communicate.
- If I see how poor I am in spirit, if I let that fact hit my heart in sorrow, and if I resist all inclination at raging against these facts…then I think it is very natural to start to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
These are only the first four beatitudes, and there are blessings at ever step. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They will be comforted. Who comforts? The Holy Spirit, the comforter, will. They will inherit the earth. They will be filled. Jesus promises these blessings to us, reminders and motivators that it is very worth the effort to go through these steps in spiritual self-realization. These steps should be almost daily in application, and the comprehension of the promised blessings should be daily as well.