Categories
Articles Blog Post History Quotes Wisdom

The six mistakes of man (Wisdom from philosopher Cicero)

The Roman philosopher and statesman, Cicero, said this some 2,000 years ago, and it is still true.

The six mistakes of man:

  1. The delusion that personal gain is made by crushing others.
  2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected.
  3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.
  4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
  5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study.
  6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
Categories
Articles Blog Post Devotional

Devotional Study On The Beatitudes

NOTE: The Beatitudes Scripture Devotional – If you are reading this, please note that this devotional was first written for a group of students in a class I was teaching on Living Life on Mission. If you find yourself wondering about a statement that may not make sense, it could be because there is context to it that was only expressed to those students. If you have any questions at all, please comment at the end of the article.

Weekly Devotional:

In last week’s devotional for our class we learned that the persecution that the Christian church experienced in the first century was the very beginning of the history of us as a church and faith.

This week, we learned that Jesus prepared his disciples for this persecution. Here are the notes that I used for this week’s class:

Scripture Breakdown

In Matthew 5:10 we see the last beatitude:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Before we talk about this last beatitude, let us see the whole picture on this scripture; this portion of scripture is the last beatitude of a total of eight beatitudes that Jesus is giving us in Matthew 5. These were given as Jesus’ first series of statements in his first recorded sermon – The Sermon at the Mount.

The word beatitude comes from the word beatific or blessed. In other words, Jesus,  using these statements is giving us an insight as to what it means to live the blessed life. The beatitudes are descriptions of how we can live the blessed life.

When we do a Bible study on these, we can see a clear breakdown of these scriptures that allows us to better understand what Jesus is really getting at here. Please see the breakdown of the beatitudes below:

First Section

#1. Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

#2. Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

#3. Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

#4. Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst for righteousness, for
they will be filled.

————————————–

Second Section

#5. Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

#6. Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

#7. Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

#8. Blessed are those who are
persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Every beatitude has a requirement and a reward

As you can see above, the beatitudes are a series of eight statements of how to live the blessed life. Every beatitude starts with a requirement, and ends with a reward, for instance, the third beatitude:

“blessed are the meek”
is the requirement.

“for they will inherit the earth”
is the reward.

And the rest has the same structure.

The sandwich

With this in mind, we can start formulating our Bible study — the first beatitude has a reward of “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” which is a present tense statement – the rest of the beatitudes after a future tense reward.

In this example then, we learn that those who are poor in spirit actually live in the kingdom of heaven right now. The rest of the beatitudes have a future tense reward … until you get to the last beatitude, which also has a present tense reward – “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

With this we understand the first insight of the beatitudes – a sandwich is starting to formulate. You have the first beatitude with the same reward as the last one, and vice-versa, which means that those who execute the requirement of these two beatitudes get a present tense reward.

You can also run a line across the middle, and the eight beatitudes can be broken in two sections of four. Since the fourth beatitude ends with a requirement that has to do with righteousness:

“blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”,

and the last beatitude also has a requirement that has to do with righteousness:

“blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness”,

It is only right to assume that Jesus is dividing the Beatitudes into two sections of four. So, having the last beatitude of each section ending with a requirement of righteousness, Jesus begins to unfold the entire purpose of the Beatitudes.

The purpose of the Beatitudes

After taking a look at this basic way of breaking the eight beatitudes we understand one powerful insight; that the whole purpose of the beatitudes is to get us into a place of righteousness.

The whole purpose of the beatitudes is to get us into a place of righteousness

Starting with the last beatitude of the first section, which is beatitude number four:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Please note that this beatitude is describing a human that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. But further from Jesus blessing those who are hungry – notice that Jesus is blessing those who hunger, not those who simply have an appetite or craving – what Jesus is trying to tell us is that from beatitude number one to beatitude number four, the whole time, Jesus is speaking about a human searching for righteousness. There is a deep and painful desire to find righteousness. The first section of four describes the journey of those who are seeking for righteousness. This is why the fourth beatitude ends with such statement; blessed are those who have been searching for the thing that matters most – righteousness.

So, the question here is; what does it take to become righteous?

Now with this in mind, read the first section of four again:

#1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

#2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

#3. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

#4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

This is what it takes to become righteous – at least that is what we begin to learn from Jesus. When someone is poor in spirit, knows how to and what to mourn for, is meek or humble, and is hungry for what is righteous – he is a man seeking righteousness.

Now, if the first four beatitudes describe a man searching and seeking righteousness, the second section, or the last four, also end with righteousness, but in a different way. The second section of the beatitudes describes a man already walking in righteousness and being persecuted because of it.

The question here is; what does it look like to walk in righteousness?

With this in mind, please see this man already walking in righteousness and being persecuted because of it:

#5. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

#6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

#7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

#8. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

This is how it looks like to walk in righteousness. When someone is merciful, pure in heart, peacemaker, and being persecuted because of it – he is a man walking in righteousness.

The first section of the beatitudes, or season one if you will, ends with a human seeking and searching for righteousness, season two of the beatitudes ends with a human being persecuted because of righteousness. This shows us and gives us the evidence of what Jesus is trying to get at. He is reminding us of what really matters – righteousness. The point of the beatitudes is not just showing us how to live a better life, and it’s not just showing us how to live the blessed life – what Jesus is showing us is that living the blessed life is living the life of righteousness.

The point of the beatitudes is not just showing us how to live a better life, and it’s not just showing us how to live the blessed life – what Jesus is showing us is that living the blessed life is living the life of righteousness.

The last beatitude

Coming back to our main point of last class, I said all that to say this; the last beatitude shows a man being persecuted because of righteousness. Jesus was preparing his disciples because he knew that the church would be persecuted, and Jesus was letting them know, that if there is going to be any persecution, let it be because of righteousness and not anything else.

Jesus knew that his disciples needed to be ready to take upon the work of the church, even in the midst of persecution. The last beatitude describes a human righteously being persecuted, but take heart, Jesus’ promise was that those being persecuted because of righteousness are experiencing the kingdom of heaven… right now.

On to you…

Comment below any questions, comments, concerns, complaints. Not sure what to comment? Here are some things that can help you:

1. How do you feel about what you read?

2. Is there anything you agree with? Anything you disagree with?

3. What do you think could have been communicated better?

4. Is there anything you would like to hear more about?

5. Any encouragement for the author?

6. “I don’t feel like commenting” – I feel you. Would you mind sharing this post? You never know who may benefit from it.

Categories
Articles Blog Post Growth History

Why it’s okay to be ordinary – Jesus the Carpenter

A historical point to the ordinary spread of Christianity

“In truth, most missionary works were not carried out by the apostles, but rather by the countless and nameless Christians who for different reasons— persecution, business, or missionary calling— traveled from place to place taking the news of the gospel with them.” – Justo G. The Story of Christianity.

Many of us believe that the people responsible for the high success of Christianity were the apostles and immediate disciples of Jesus. While that has its place in the world of truthfulness, it’s not the entire story. The fact of the matter is that the apostles were with Jesus, learned from him, and began the work of building Jesus’ church in Jerusalem. However, the spread of Christianity was not because the apostles in Jerusalem, it was because of the Diaspora Judaism – or the Dispersed Jews — Jewish people living outside of Jerusalem, using the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, or the Version of the Seventy, named as such because of an ancient legend that told of seventy Jewish scholars commissioned to translate the scriptures. After working independently, they found that their translations agreed exactly, which would later be proof of the legitimacy of the translation of the Bible as divinely inspired[note]The Story of Christianity Vol 1. Justo G.[/note].

Having a Greek translation of the Old Testament tells us that a generation outside of Jerusalem was rising that did not know Hebrew or Aramaic, and therefore had to use the Greek translations, so that when the Gospel of Jesus was heard at some of these dispersed places, it was easy for these Jews to understand Jesus’ message, and were able to take this message to the entire land of Palestine (the Roman Empire), which primarily spoke and understood the Greek language.

What we can learn from history

The point of this historical summary —— which is my favorite subject to talk about, as you can probably tell —— is that we learn that Christianity was simply carried out by ordinary people. When I first learned this, it made me cry, and I am not exaggerating. Because sometimes I think that we want to be a certain kind of individual with a certain kind of status and profession that would show people who we are.

In the Christian world, if you are not a pastor, then you are not serious about Jesus, or if you are not a preacher, then you cannot or will not express your faith —— you have to live your faith in private. But history tells us that it wasn’t the apostles that were responsible for the spread of Christianity, rather it was ordinary people like you and me —— yes, the traders, the slaves, the physicians, business owners, carpenters, teachers, the people running away from the Roman soldiers, those incarcerated, chefs, plumbers, etc —— yes, it was all those ordinary people in love with Jesus, while doing their work and going about their own business, would tell people about their experience and testimony of the one that resurrected from the death, and that the same way he resurrected, he could resurrect them from their spiritual, emotional, and even physical distress.

Jesus the Carpenter

The fact that Jesus was a carpenter, lets us know that this is true. God moved to our neighborhood and became a carpenter. I mean, if you are God and you want to come to the world you created to save it, you would probably have chosen to be the King, or an official Prophet (in Old Testament standards), or a Pastor (in our standards nowadays), or some type of political figure, the president, or something with a better societal standard and status. But Jesus came as a carpenter. And this is significant for us, because if Jesus came as a carpenter, it means that in our days, he would have come to take an ordinary job like yours and mine, and that if he was a customer support representative, an accountant, an electrician, a plumber, a school teacher, a doctor, a web designer, a graphic designer, a good ol’ millennial gamer, or a kitchen dinner cook – he would have still been able to carry out his purpose in life.

What you are is not the same as who you are. You may be an accountant, which is a what, but that does not mean that this is who you are. What you are, describes a function you are executing in the world, who you are, describes an identity you have in the world.

The idea that we have to become a certain kind of profession to be liked and considered successful is killing you. Yes, you read that right, becoming a profession is what we are becoming nowadays. We are taught that our entire lives will be defined by what we become. A doctor is more respected, an athlete is more liked, a business owner is richer, a Yale student is deeper, a Harvard graduate is smarter, an MIT guru is hired faster – and these achievements is what society teaches us to become. There is one problem though; it’s not possible for us to become a what (what we do), rather we become a who (who we are – identity). At the end of your life, when people are giving your eulogy, you want them to describe who you were and not what you were.

Who you become is more important than what you become.

So stay true to who you are, and where you are in life right now. It may not be where you ultimately want to be, but even in those places, you can still carry out the purpose that God has given you. I don’t think Jesus’ ultimate purpose in life was to execute the office of a carpenter, but while he was a carpenter he was still able to carry out his purpose. In fact, him being a carpenter was his preparation for his ultimate ministry and calling – he died on a wooden cross. He WAS a carpenter but BECAME our savior. In this way, Jesus fulfilled his calling when he died on a wooden cross to save us.

[mc4wp_form id=”378″]

On to you…

Comment below any questions, comments, concerns, complaints. Not sure what to comment? Here are some things that can help you:

1. How do you feel about what you read?

2. Is there anything you agree with? Anything you disagree with?

3. What do you think could have been communicated better?

4. Is there anything you would like to hear more about?

5. Any encouragement for the author?

6. “I don’t feel like commenting” – I feel you. Would you mind sharing this post? You never know who may benefit from it.