We just spent a couple of weeks looking into The Beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12). We looked within ourselves to empty out our spiritual pride, mourn for our sin, become meek, hunger for the Lord’s righteousness, become merciful, become pure in heart, and become peacemakers. And we are promised that if we are persecuted for our faith in Christ, we will be blessed. As I read back over each post, I became aware that this listing shows us how Jesus wants us to live–as an empty vessel that He can use for His glory. “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Is. 64:8)
Our Creator God, “the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed [us] from the womb” (Is. 44:24) knows us better than anyone, even ourselves. He “set [us] apart before [we were] born, and… called [us] by His grace” (Gal. 1:15). For those of us who called out to the Lord (by faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ on the cross and in His resurrection victory over sin), we belong to Him. “Know that the LORD, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.” (Ps. 100:3)
We weren’t created by chance; we were created for His pleasure (Rev. 4:11; Col. 1:16) to have other beings He can have a genuine relationship with. Being made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27), human beings have the ability to know God and therefore love Him, worship Him, serve Him, and fellowship with Him. God did not create human beings because He needed them. As God, He needs nothing.
Recognizing the complete sovereignty and holiness of God, we are amazed that He would take man and crown him “with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5) and that He would condescend to call us “friends” (John 15:14-15). Why did God create us? God created us for His pleasure and so that we, as His creation, would have the pleasure of knowing Him. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” (Eph. 2:10)
He created us for a purpose: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'” (Jer. 29:11-13) We love to hear that God wants to prosper us and give us hope. But there’s a caveat attached: we are to seek Him with all of our hearts, call upon Him and pray to Him, then He will hear us.
If you are like most of us, you want to please people; you want them to be happy to spend time with you. Some people are born with super-thick skin and have the innate ability to resist seeking the approval of others. Yet there are those of us who’ve struggled with people-pleasing most of our lives. We sometimes forget the most important stamp of approval comes from God. The Lord didn’t place us here to please others, but instead to please Him. “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10)
I believe The Beatitudes clearly shows what the Lord wants of us:
- Humble ourselves before Him, recognizing that He is the Almighty God and we are but sinful, created beings;
- Mourn over our personal and national sin;
- Have a quiet trust in the Lord and submit to His will;
- Yearn to know Him better, seek Him with all our hearts, and submit to His sanctification work in our lives;
- Be quick to forgive others; show others grace and mercy and love them as the Lord loves us;
- Submit to the Lord’s refining work in us, and endure the needed trials with joy because He cares so much for us that He is perfecting us to stand in His glory;
- Pursue peace with others, Encourage one another; Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice;
- Be a shining light on a hill so that others in the darkness will come into the light only Jesus provides, even while understanding that many may falsely accuse and persecute you because of His name.
We can either have the world’s approval, or we can have the Lord’s: “If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4b)
Whose approval do you seek? “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15)