Sermon On The Mount Devotional Blog 2

Sermon On The Mount Devotional

Soul-Contentedness 

Introduction Part 2

Read Matthew 6:5-7:29

One of my favorite movies from the past is Dead Poet’s Society. This movie stars Robin Williams, who played a teacher, John Keating. This educator worked at an all-boys preparatory school, rigorous and demanding. William’s character drew to himself a loyal group of young men, boys wanting to find freedom and purpose. One scene finds Keating’s class in a courtyard on campus, encircling their teacher. Keating wants these boys each to find their own path in life. Marching in this courtyard, he encourages them to find “the beat of their own drummer”, marching not in step with the world, but making their own way.

The world tells us to be unique, to buck authority, and to listen only to yourselves. Ian Duguid in his book, Hero of Heroes: Seeing Christ in the Beatitudes says, “The Sermon on the Mount challenges us with this question: ‘To which drum are we marching?’ Are we marching to the drum of the world, like those around us, or are we marching to the drum of God’s kingdom as we hear it in God’s Word, the Bible?” (pg. 2)

In the last devotional, we looked at the fact that the Sermon on the Mount was not written to give us a picture of what it takes to be saved. We know from Scripture that we are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ and that salvation is a free gift. We saw that the SOM was written to show us what life as one of God’s children looks like in this fallen world from the lips of Jesus, how we are now to live in light of our salvation. How are we to live? Differently, because we are different!

The Bible is full of this idea of being called to live differently from the surrounding world. Leviticus 9:2 says, “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” God told Moses to talk to the people and remind them that they are a chosen people, loved of God and because of this they are to live, not like the surrounding, pagan nations with their idolatry, but to live set apart, holy lives. The word holy means set apart, other, perfect and so God was telling them that they were to live lives that reflect the character of their God. We know that we cannot live holy and perfect lives on our own and so this call to be holy is a call to repentance and faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Who lived holy and perfectly in our place. With salvation freely given, we are now, through the power of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, to seek after holiness, living differently than the world.

John Stott, a famous pastor and writer says, “For the essential theme of the whole Bible from beginning to end is that God’s historical purpose is to call out a people for himself; that this people is a ‘holy people, set apart from the world to belong to him and to obey him; and that its vocation is to be true to its identity, that is, to be ‘holy’ or ‘different’ in all its outlook and behavior.’” (The Message of the Sermon on the Mount by John Stott pg. 17)

We are called to be set apart. And what does that look like? We are to be different! Stott goes on to say, “Jesus emphasized that his true followers, the citizens of God’s kingdom, were to be entirely different from others. They were not to take their cue from the people around them, but from him, and so prove to be genuine children of their heavenly Father… different from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and the irreligious.” (Stott pg. 18, 19)

The opening section of the Sermon on the Mount is called the Beatitudes, and it is a section that highlights what it means or looks like to live differently. Each of these Beatitudes begins with the curious phrase, “Blessed are…” There is great debate on what the term “blessed” means. Does it mean to be happy as the world defines happiness? A subjective feeling that each of us is to seek out and find for ourselves? No, blessed does not find its definition as the world would define happiness.

Jim Boice, a commentator says it does mean happy but not as the world means happiness. To the world happiness is a superficial emotion that is dependent on circumstances, or what is going on around us. When this commentator says “blessed” means happy, it is a Godly contentment, independent of circumstances. It is a happiness that “fills the soul with joy even in the midst of the most depressing events.” (Boice pg. 14)

So, if ‘blessed’ doesn’t mean ‘happy’ as the world says, what else does it mean? Jesus is not declaring how people feel; rather, he is making an objective statement about what God thinks of them. Blessed is a positive judgement by God on the individual that means ‘to be approved’. So, when God blesses us, he approves us... Blessedness is not simply a nice wish from God; it is a pronouncement of what we actually are- approved. (The Sermon on the Mount by Kent Hughes, pg. 16)

So, let me put it this way: ‘Blessed’ means a soul contentedness (Godly happiness) flowing from God’s approval of us in Christ, living a life totally reliant on Him. “When Jesus spoke these words, he was telling his listeners how they could be deeply, spiritually, and profoundly happy (contented) and how they could maintain this happiness (contentedness) even in the midst of life’s disappointments and hard times.” (The Sermon on the Mount by James Boice, pg. 15)

In these next sections, we will look at eight attitudes that we are to have as those loved by God through Christ. These are not things we can do, writing them down on some list and at the end of the day putting a little check next to each. These are to be characteristics that define who we are, or more importantly, Whose we are. These are heart habits that mark us as belonging to God.

So, What Now?

How are you marching to the beat set out by this world? Are you running after what this world says will bring you happiness: sex, relationships, image, the applause of man? When we run after these things we will find that our emotional happiness is easily shaken. Will you march to the beat set out by the Lord, finding your blessed contentment in being approved of by God?