20 Then looking up at his disciples, he said: Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours. 21 Blessed are you who are now hungry, because you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you, insult you, and slander your name as evil because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy. Take note—your reward is great in heaven, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the prophets. 24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort. 25 Woe to you who are now full, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are now laughing, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the false prophets.
I watched in amazement at the people dancing, the colorful floats slowly gliding along and the characters waving at all the admiring onlookers. This truly was “the happiest place on earth.” And then I looked down at my little girl. She was trying her best to peek between legs, stand on her tippy toes, or anything else she could do to see what all the excitement was about. Her view was nothing more than legs and backsides, and to be perfectly honest, that was not very pleasant. I reached down, grabbed her by her arms and hoisted her up to my shoulders. As I glanced up at her, I saw that twinkle in her eyes and the smile that had popped on to her little face. The change in her perspective made a world of difference in how she viewed the parade.
I mention that story because our viewpoint and perspective is so vital in our understanding of what is around us. As Jesus was speaking to His newly appointed disciples and others gathered on the plain, He made what seems like some pretty bold assertions if we view them from a worldly perspective. He said in verses 20-23 that the poor, the hungry, the sad, and the expendable are blessed. Then He drew a parallel by saying in verses 24-26, “Woe to the rich, the full, the happy and the popular.”
During that time, and even more today, we tend to put value on worldly possessions. All too often we see people striving for fancy dinners, the nicest cars, the biggest houses, and more “likes” on social media. We believe these will provide us the happiness we seek. The problem is they only yield a very short-lived satisfaction. As James so clearly states, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like a vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes” (James 4:13-14). Our time on this earth is limited and so are the gains and treasures we tend to seek. Paul understood this issue of focus when he wrote, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2).
When we view life through an eternal perspective rather than a temporal one, what we cherish and value tends to change. Instead of building up worldly riches, we focus on items with eternal significance. As Jesus said “Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).
If you are struggling with how you may be “blessed,” especially in times when you don’t feel quite so blessed, maybe it’s not more worldly stuff that will make you feel better. Maybe all you need is a new perspective.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Do you put too much value on the worldly belongings you have accumulated?
- Slow down this week and spend some time in the Word. Keeping your priorities aligned with God’s priorities will help you gain and maintain an eternal perspective.
- Are there some changes you can make in your daily life in order to live more for eternity? Where do you spend your time, your talents and your treasures?
Pray for Olivia, a global worker in our church family serving in Central Asia. Pray for physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional health, for openness to the gospel among her friends and neighbors, and for opportunities to share.