Blog >
Pastor's Letter for March 2020
March 3, 2020, 8:58 AM

Everyone everywhere is hungry for blessings. People all want good things for ourselves and for everyone about whom we care and we are willing to work hard for good things. It is good and proper to work hard for good food, shelter, clothing and for a good reputation among our fellow man. People work hard for good things and to avoid hurtful things for themselves and their family.

Why then in the Sermon on the mount in the gospel of Matthew and the Sermon on level land the gospel of Luke, call people blessed if they lack such things and pronounces woe on those who have them?

Jesus says in Luke 6:20, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil……24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. 25 Woe to you who are well fed now,for you will go hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you…

How is it that Jesus rejects good things that all people want and embraces people who don’t have good things? Are we to make ourselves poor, destitute, or sad to receive the blessings of God?

Perhaps it would be worthwhile to explore what it means to be blessed in accordance with how the Scriptures view blessing. God speaks blessings which literally good words upon such things as Adam and Eve in the Garden, the Sabbath day and Abraham. In proclaiming blessing, God conveys his approval, establishes His connection and gives power to be fruitful and multiply.

Being blessed is also to be happy:

Deut. 33:29 Blessed (happy) are you, O Israel! Who is like you,

a people saved by the LORD? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.

Psa. 1:1 Blessed (happy) is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Scriptural blessings come through faith in God. Worldly lack of anything including food, of clothes, happiness or reputation therefore have no bearing on the blessed good words that God says about us or the blessed happiness that comes from faith in Him.

The opposite of blessing is woe. The root of the word translated as woe, means sinful desires. The desires for comfort, good food, laughter, and reputation are common to virtually all people. Such things are not in themselves sinful, but if people pursue them with passion and desire in a way that leads to separation from God then such desires are sinful. We can’t just easily say that we work hard for don’t love our comfort and such but don’t love them more than we love God. Most of us pray hard for life to go well for us. The grace of God and our hard work have combine to make life good for all of us. Based on the blessings we have earned we may even go so far as to admit that we feel pretty righteous.

How could condemnation and woe be what we deserve?

Rom. 9:31 Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.”

The Jews, particularly the chief priests, pharisees and teachers of the law were very well off. They had an understanding with Rome that produced prosperity and peace that both valued. The Jews worked hard to maintain their worldly and spiritual comfort. The worked hard for it and in the process long since stopped seeking and trusting God.

Christians in our day and time value worldly and spiritual comfort and work hard to avoid suffering. We are comforted both by our economic success and the promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life with Christ. Jesus said that in this life you will have tribulation. When tribulation comes, which do we want more, our comfort or our Lord?

Lent is a great time to seek God and ask Him to show you how to receive the good words and the happiness that comes from God. As we seek Him and his blessings by faith, our natural faith in our works as our source of comfort dies away. The dying to ourselves opens the way to resurrection and the blessing and happiness that come from communion with God.

Contents © 2020 First Evangelical Presbyterian Church • Church Website Builder by mychurchwebsite.netPrivacy Policy