“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus delivered His longest discourse from a beautiful location on a lake. It’s 111 verses long, which probably would have only taken Jesus ten minutes to share. It’s probably excerpts from an afternoon listening to Jesus.

The Old Testament ended with a curse, the first sermon in the New Testament opens with a promise of blessing. In many ways, this is the Kingdom Manifesto. Jesus introduces a new and radical philosophy of relating to the heavenly Father. Jesus preached about a God who loves everyone, not just religious professionals. Faith was no longer based on following a legalistic code based on restricted behavior, but a living connection with God.

The term Beatitude is derived from the Latin word “blessing.” Scholars interpret this as happiness. Today we are taught “God wants me to be happy.” Yes, but I’m not sure that’s God’s be all, end all.

Americans have embraced the Wall Street version of happiness –the pursuit of wealth and security…which has even found its way into our theology. It’s the idea that God’s top priority is believers have a right to the blessings of heath and wealth. Yes, those are benefits, but not the focus of our faith.

Psychology Today did a survey asking what constitutes happiness? The editors discerned what happiness was not: it didn’t matter if you were rich or poor; married or single or where you lived. Instead, it related to an inward attitude and the way we regard our circumstances.
Happiness differs from blessed because happiness is dependent on what happens; it is circumstantial. Therefore, it’s uncertain and temporary. Blessed refers to one’s relationship with God which encompasses inner satisfaction. God offers what you’ve always dreamed of but never expected. It’s the “too good to be true” –coming true. It is having God as your biggest fan and best friend.

Blessings come from a transformation of the self, a new orientation towards God as our source. It is not a goal to achieve, but a state of being. The Sermon on the Mount sets forth the contrast between human nature and God’s nature. None of these characteristics come naturally.
These are not eight attributes we try to add to our character. This is the progressive spiritual unfolding as the Holy Spirit works within us.
As Jesus speaks, it becomes apparent the kingdom of Heaven in not so much a location, but a spiritual condition that is obtained by recognizing our situation in life. God’s love for you is so extreme that when sin entered the picture, the first move He made was to establish salvation through Jesus Christ for us. You can’t do anything to make Him love you more than He already does. We don’t have the spiritual resources to purchase God’s blessing because first of all, the price is too high. The holiness, perfection, purity and righteousness required transcends any ability or financial compensation we have. It’s like the Mastercard commercial: Some things are priceless. God’s invitation is incomprehensible.

Adapted from “Change Your Attitude” by Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis