“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6.33
If you know this, why don’t you put it into practice? Have you ever wondered why you are so unhappy? Try it tomorrow morning, when you wake up. Don’t say to yourself: “today, I want to be happy”, but say: “today I want to please you Lord!” Seek happiness and you will end up miserable. You can never get happiness directly. Happiness in the Bible is always a by-product of something else. Seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and you will be blessed (happy, with a big smile on your face!)
The Sermon on the Mount sets out the attitudes – not the actions – which characterise true disciples. The introduction to the sermon, 5:3-12, is usually called ‘the beatitudes’, and this is a list of eight basic attitudes which Jesus develops, illustrates and explains throughout the rest of his sermon. (It is sometimes debated as to exactly how many beatitudes there are. Some speak of seven, nine, or ten beatitudes, but –if we regard verses 10-12 of Matthew 5 as one beatitude – the number appears to be eight.)
Each ‘beatitude’ begins with the Greek word makarios – which is usually translated as either ‘blessed’ or ‘happy’. Makarios is nothing to do with ‘blessings’. Instead, it comes from the Greek word mak which means ‘large’ or ‘lengthy’ and carries the idea of someone with a big smile on their face. It is the word used by Mary in Luke 1:48 and is best understood by ‘very fortunate’ or even ‘to be congratulated’.
The beatitudes or ‘beautiful attitudes’ give a general character description of those disciples who are living ‘in the kingdom’. As we read them, we see what we are meant to look like as a result of God’s personal rule in our life. If we live fully under the personal rule of God, we can expect to be characterised by these eight attitudes.
- Poor in spirit
- Hunger for righteousness
- Pure in heart