Let us take a look at what Jesus in his sermon on the mount (Matt. 5: 3- 12), teaches about life and letting go.   After each verse I will give what my NIV study bible offers by way of explanation.  The NIV Study Bible expresses each condition  in the first person and talks about where you have come to, to receive this each blessing [1].  In each case you will see that a spiritual blessing entails the letting go of a worldly concern and accepting a reality that may not be pleasant or flattering.

 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I have come to the place where I feel accepted by God, when I feel most unacceptable to myself.  I recognize my need for God and know that I do not have to earn His Love with wealth, status or spiritual sophistication.

 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

I have come to the place where I can really feel the empty places in my life.  I can let others know when I am hurting and share the grief of others without embarrassment.  I can weep, like Jesus did.

 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

I have come to the place where I don’t have to be the strong one all the time.  I can be tender and gentle with people.  I’ve given the control of my life to God and I don’t have to “win” all the time.

 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

I have come to the place where I want to know God and His will for my life more than anything.  I am more excited about God’s will for the world than my own financial gain, success in my career, or acceptance by my peers.  I long for God’s perspective in my decision – making.

 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

I have come to the place where I can enter into the feelings of someone who is hurting lonely, or distressed and feel alongside them in their pain.  God has given me a sensitivity for the suffering of others.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

I have come to the place where I can be completely open and honest with God and others – transparent because I have nothing to hide.  I don’t have to put on “airs”, or pretend to be what I’m not.

 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

 I have come to the place where I really work at keeping the channels of communication open between me and those around me.  I deal with anger and disagreements immediately and don’t allow them to fester.  I encourage those around me to work out their differences without hurting one another.

 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

I have come to the place where I now what I am living for, and for this cause I am not afraid to suffer and, if need be , die.  I am willing to “take the heat” and stand alone for what is right.  I can take criticism without feeling self-pity or self righteousness.

 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven …[2]

The Beatitudes are blessings within reach but only through the Grace of Christ.  They frame what can be through a life of faith and letting go of the material world.  Imagine what a beautiful place our world will be when this becomes a reality for all.

Jesus explains very clearly- we have a choice that cannot be avoided.   He states:

No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the otehr.  You cannot serve both God and Money.[3]

The choice is crystal clear: The Beatitudes by Faith or the world by love of money an all that money stands for.  The NIV study bible shows a vision of the kind of people that we can become when we accept the blessings of Christ and strive to follow Him.

I will conclude with George Eliot’s sad and poignant vision of a life given to money.  Her description of Silas Marner in her beautiful book Silas Marner is a warning and lesson to us all:

The light of his faith quite put out, and his affections made desolate, he had clung with all the force of his nature to his work and his money; and like all objects to which a man devotes himself, they had fashioned him into correspondence with themselves. …  His gold, as he hung over it and saw it grow, gathered his power of loving together into a hard isolation like its own.[4]

Let us close with a prayer attributed to Sir Francis Drake in 1577:

 Disturb us, Lord, when

We are too well pleased with ourselves,

When our dreams have come true

Because we have dreamed too little,

When we arrived safely

Because we sailed too close to the shore.

 

Disturb us, Lord, when

With the abundance of things we possess

We have lost the waters of life;

Having fallen in love with life,

We have ceased to dream of eternity

And in our efforts to build a new earth,

We have allowed our vision

Of the new Heaven to dim.

 

Disturb us, lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.

 

We ask You to push back

The horizons of our hopes;

And to push into the future

In strength, courage, hope and love.

Thank you

the conclusion of a sermon given in Sept 2005


[1]           NIV Study Bible; p. 1245

[2]           Matt. 5: 1 – 12

[3]           Matt. 6: 24

[4]           George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) , Silas Marner 1861,  p. 46

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