Spring 1997 Newsletter: Makarios!
Author: Wendy Goubej
Publish date:
 
 

Makarios! Blessings on you!

Such is the benediction of God offered to every individual on the planet. As we enter the new year of 1997, it would do well for us to reflect on the great Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5, preached by the Son of God at the beginning of His ministry. May we all, as we begin a new year, find renewed blessing and deep meaning in these familiar words.

Makarios is the term Jesus used for “blessed” in the Beatitudes. Until then, makarios described the elite, the exalted, or the special. But Jesus turns it around and says, “Want to be makarios? Mourn! Hunger! Become meek and poor in spirit.” For His Kingdom is backwards to the Kingdom of the world.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Who are the poor in spirit?


Jesus is not talking about the mentally deficient or the discouraged. To be poor or ptochos means to have nothing to offer, to be in complete poverty. The poor in spirit are those about to be justified by God’s wonderful redeeming grace, those who have realized their condition and their desperate need of a Saviour, who realize that they can do nothing to achieve salvation in and of themselves.

Without that realization, the unfolding of the rest of the beautiful plan of salvation is halted, for “the Lord can do nothing towards the recovery of man until <man is> convinced of his own weakness and stripped of al self-sufficiency” (DA, 300).

How many of us have still not been fully convinced of our destitute state? How many still believe we’re not so bad? To those who see themselves as destitute without Christ, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Jesus is not talking about losing a loved one. Pentheho means repentance, crying out in sadness over our sin. It is the logical step after ptochos.

Confession will not be acceptable to God without sincere repentance and reformation. There must be decided changes in the life; everything offensive to God must be put away. This will be the result of genuine sorrow for sin, a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification (5T, 640-641).

Have we experienced this cleansing? Or are we jealously guarding some cherished sins? Have we found out what displeases the Lord and put it away? We cannot freely experience salvation without this step.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”

Here Jesus is speaking of humility—the fruit of true repentance. Meekness prepares for sanctification. Without this humbling of ourselves beneath the hand of God, we would be in a constant struggle of our wills against the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. When the Lord chastens and corrects us, our meekness will make it easier to bear (See Hebrews 12:5-6).

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” 


Here Jesus speaks of an absolute hunger. Jesus cannot fill those who are already full (Luke 1:53). The only requirement to being filled is hunger (Isaiah 55:1-3, John 7:37).

Are we hungry for God? Are we thirsting for sanctification? Or are we satisfied with a seemingly clean exterior, an upright façade? Does our soul pant after God, as does the deer after the water (Psalm 42:1)

We cannot force ourselves to be hungry and thirsty after righteousness; it comes as a result of our God-guided repentance and humility. God can give us a hunger and a thirst, and then, as He promises, He can fill us with Himself.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

Jesus calls for mercy on a far bigger scale than most of us see mercy. It is easy to feel mercy for the homeless and poverty-stricken. Even non-Christians feel mercy and compassion. Even government officials send aid to impoverished countries. But true Christians are called to go beyond that.

The poor and destitute definitely have a claim to mercy. But there are those whom we may think don’t deserve mercy. They could be those in our church who have hurt us, those who have attacked us or spread evil and gossip about us, or those who appear to be malicious and hurtful and unrepentant.

God calls us to rise above and to forgive. Only with God’s power can we master such a thing as love to the unlovable. If we could just force ourselves to love them, it would be a false love, built out of human duty rather than real compassion. True love only comes as a result of God in us and His work of justification and sanctification.

Mercy to the undeserving is holy. And only when we realized our condition, experience the mercy of God in our own lives, and subject ourselves to God, can we produce mercy to those who have no claim to it.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

The pure in heart are those with no evil thoughts, those with a clean, pure mind. Having put away everything offensive and surrendered to the cleansing fire of God, they are coming out purified. They are being made ready to live in the holy kingdom of heaven where nothing selfish or evil may enter in.

Having given up their own right to being understood by their brothers, having loved even those whom they wished to hate, these rare individuals have received power from God to become true ambassadors of Christ. They have given up too much to go back. They long for complete union with Christ.

And the promise is given that they shall see God. Not just physically in heaven. But “see” as in “understand” God. They will know Him for what He really is. They have walked with Him so closely that they have begun to assimilate His character. By beholding, they have become changed.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” 


Peace can only come from keeping God’s law:

Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble (Psalm 119:165 NKJV).

Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river,
 And your righteousness like the waves of the sea (Isaiah 48:18 NKJV).



Peacemakers are they that understand the spirit of the law and the character of God, and carry it out. They are called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing nothing wrong! These are they who have fully developed the plan of salvation in their lives. They have been brought from filthy wicked creatures to holy and royal members of God’s kingdom. They have become completely new people, and nothing causes them to stumble.

Through these Beatitudes, God has outlined what He wants to develop in His Church. He has shown us what is possible in our lives if we are willing to pay the price.

We are to encourage in no business, follow no pursuit, seek no pleasure that would hinder the outworkings of His righteousness in our character and life (TMB, 99).


Jesus calls us to be lights in our world that others may glorify God when they see our lives. Our light is the life and love of Christ in us. It is “habitual meekness, kindness, mercy, love, trials borne patiently, temptations resisted, and blessings gratefully received” (TMB 44).

Our mission is to show the world that there is a God on the throne whose character is worthy of praise and imitation.

How can we accomplish our mission if we have not allowed God to work out His character building plan in our lives? If you, like me, find yourself at the onset of 1997, still struggling with the self-ness, having still not yet “resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4 NKJV), then perhaps now is a good time for us to reassess, reorganize, and recommit our lives to him.

In the road to death the whole race may go with all their worldliness, all their selfishness, pride, dishonesty, moral debasement. There is room for every man’s opinions and doctrines, space to follow his inclinations, to do whatever is self-love may dictate…if you cling to any besetting sin, you will find the way too narrow for you  to enter. Your own ways, evil habits and practices must be given up if you would keep the way of the Lord. He who would serve Christ cannot…meet the world’s standard. Heaven’s path is too narrow for riches to ride in state, to narrow for the play of self-centered ambition, to steep and rugged for lovers of ease to climb (TMB 138).

Makarios!

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