The First Beatitude

10 May

“Blessed (happy) are the humble (or poor) in spirit, for they are in fact the very essence of the kingdom of heaven.”

Please note: This commentary is only designed and intended to but briefly deal with the translation as presented to the reader above.  It is my desire to extend this commentary a bit further at a later date; focusing more on the original grammar and syntax from the Greek perspective and text as well as to trace it’s origins to the Hebrew, from whence it was originally translated.  But for now, may it suffice to say that I believe this is by far one of the most accurate of the English translations that we have available at our disposal today; that fully embraces the thought and mindset of the Hebrew author and his intended audience.  For those that cannot (or simply do not) wish to for me to write an additional commentary on the said above, I will most happily provide for you a link (here) to a source that will help to aid you in your pursuit of understanding the linguistic nature of this passage, as it did my own.  Happy reading, God’s blessings and peace be upon you all.

Sincerely,                                                                                                 John Mark Butzu

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The focus of this text is not geared (as some have thought) toward the physical aspects surrounding the creature, but rather is concerned primarily with the inward status and condition of the human heart.  It is this condition above all else that determines whether the professing Christian truly experiences for himself the blessings and benefits of being identified with the kingdom of heaven; and frankly from knowing God at all.

What qualifies a believer to receive the gifts and blessings of this verse?  The answer is actually found in one word: poverty.  What qualifies a soul to partake in the kingdom of heaven is just what this verse implies.  One must be morally and spiritually without hope (and destitute) in their own sight (and in the all consuming presence and love of the Savior) to receive the love of Christ into their earthly lives.  It is strictly those men and women who possess in themselves the knowledge that without Christ they are absolutely nothing: spiritually destitute and without strength to perform anything on their own that generally receive the blessings that come from Almighty God.

The proper attitude one should always possess can be clearly seen from reading the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector who were praying at the temple found in Luke 18: 9-14.  The Pharisee, who believing in his own goodness, sought to commend himself to God being motivated by his own religious efforts apart from the workings of the cross (the grace of our Lord) is beautifully contrasted against a detestable and vile sinner, who in sheer desperation, and having had the realization of his own worthlessness and wretchedness, beat his fists repeatedly upon his chest, not daring to even lift his eyes toward heaven, while pleading with God for mercy for his wicked behavior.  We see it is the first man that is clearly condemned by Jesus while the second is in essence received with open arms into the tender embrace and compassion of the heavenly Father.

It is this inward nature of the human heart that willingly embraces its own poverty in exchange for the power and love of Jesus Christ that is in essence the prerequisite if you will for obeying all other known scripture.  Without this coveted and truly remarkable, wonderful condition all hope will be lost for the individual who wishes but in vain for spiritual advancement and progress.  The human heart must above all else learn to quickly and readily identify and to despise all of its even most positive and genuine self interests apart from Christ as well as its desires and natural feelings of pride and feelings of self worth at having secured perhaps many victories and accomplishments apart from the knowledge and cross of Jesus Christ.  The following thought taken loosely from Hannah’s song of thanksgiving (1st Samuel 2) “the rich he hath sent away empty but the lowly (humble or poor in spirit) he has satisfied to their hearts content and upmost desire” is most appropriate.”  This is the heart that Christ is well pleased with and so desires.  This is the heart that hears the Saviors’ voice and obeys its every command.  And this is the kind of heart that will, as it is spend all of eternity with God.

Other examples of this beautiful condition of the human heart as well as of this beatitude can be seen in men like the apostle Paul, who in his letter to the church at Ephesus writes: Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints.” There is no hint or trace of selfish boasting or feelings of pride at his spiritual achievements.  He knew that it was not by his own strength, might or reason that miracles occurred and many sinners were saved.  The human heart that has this revelation is most precious in the eyes of the Lord and is the finest thing we as Christians have to willingly offer back to God.  That is why all work and spiritual activity no matter how great it may appear to be from man’s perspective, but that does not stem from essentially a “broken heart” and “filled with compassion,” is in God’s sight essentially rubbish and an affront to his true nature and holiness.  Christian works, motivated by hearts not smitten with the love, humility and respect for a holy God will be swept away and will burn on the day that they are judged; through which all believers must stand.  Paul knew this, and I believe that this above all else is why God could truly do so much with his life.  Thus his prayerful and joyful declaration in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Another example (or aspect) of this type of heart behavior can be found in the book of James 4:9-10 which reads: Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” Here we see James instructing believers to return to their first love and to “break up the fallow ground” so to speak of their calloused and hardened hearts. (Hosea 10:12)  We find that these believers had never truly been exposed to the light and deep, inner probings of the Holy Spirit; for we find from the beginning of this chapter up until these verses complete spiritual confusion and chaos in the lives of these believers who were constantly seeking to run after and excel strictly in the things of this world. (See James 4:1-9)  It could be argued that perhaps many of these believers had at one time known the breaking of the exterior condition of the human heart, yet through willful negligence, laziness and spiritual apathy had grown cold and/or indifferent to the things of the Lord, thus allowing the flesh to dominate and wreak havoc in their personal lives.   James was calling for true and genuine repentance of exalting one’s self before the goodness and grace of our Lord, and if necessary to re-circumcise the callousness of the human heart in order to partake and to receive of the promises of the Lord once again in their lives.

The human heart in many ways is like the skin that seeks to live and to grow on top of our fingernails and toes (the cuticle).  Although some element of the cuticle is necessary for protection against bacteria and disease, too much of it tends to make the body look bad.  To stop this undesirable growth from taking place, we must continually take the pruning knife (or blade) into our hands; seeking to remove what we deem as unnecessary and counterproductive to the beauty and body as a whole.  Without careful diligence to restrict the unwanted growth, we would have a mess on our hands: literally.  In the same way, Christians must continually be on their guard against all unnecessary growth and development in the human heart that at its core is counterproductive to the life of Jesus Christ and the cause of Christianity as a whole.  If not brought under submission and checked on a daily basis through prayer, meditation and contemplation of the Word of God; our natural thoughts, mental processes and human reasoning (not the actual tissues and organs) will be alive and actively searching for an avenue to seductively creep into our daily lives, thus mixing the vile with sacred, all with the singular purpose of destroying our fellowship and sweet communion with the Spirit of God.  It is true that the apostle Paul cries out in the 8th chapter of the book of Romans: “What shall be able to separate me from the love of Christ?” with the implication that nothing of this world; neither angels or death or principalities or powers would be able to stop God from loving us.  It is we that stop ourselves from loving Him!  Note that in Jeremiah God says that our hearts are desperately wicked: who can know it?

In light of our present condition, there is only one thing that has the power to boast of possessing the remedy to our current crises: prayer!  Paul instructed his converts numerous times to be on the lookout for anything foreign that would attempt to come between them and their love for the Father.  We must continually be on our guard and endeavor to seek to maintain a watchfulness against all counter-productiveness in our walk with the Lord, so that He might be free to fully use our earthen vessels while on this earth for His awesome glory and His glory alone.  Hallelujah!  Amen.

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2 Responses to “The First Beatitude”

  1. timglass May 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    A great commentary John! And thanks for visiting my blog the other day.

    May God bless your ministry.

    • jbutzu May 20, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

      Thank you! Your comments are welcome and much appreciated. Right now I am editing a paper on the first phrase of the Lord’s prayer.
      It will be posted soon. By the way, If you get a chance, watch the sermon on the wayward church (posted on my blog, or here at http://media.tscnyc.org/wmv/20090503S1.asx) from TSC. It is truly awesome, especially as it gets toward the latter half!

      With love and respect for all your work,
      John

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