Jesus Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7) opens with verses labeled The Beatitudes. “Blessed is the person who…, because there’s this reward…” These pithy statements purport to explain what it means to be a blessed person. But what’s a blessed life?
To be blessed, as people generally think of blessing, is to have more than sufficient resources for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you have bills and enough money to pay them on time with additional funds left over, you’re deemed a blessed person. The larger your home and the property on which it sits, especially when it’s isolated from close neighbors, signals your fortunate condition. People who are considered the most favored folks around are envied for their wealth. For some observers, God’s blessing is tied to health or to good, obedient children who are on their way “up” in the world. In many minds, blessing is shackled to prosperity and well-being. Success and the happiness it brings are defined through accumulation of things. Accumulate, and you’re blessed!
But, as with many ideas, the Bible sees the situation of blessing differently. The Greek word used for “blessed” in the Beatitudes gained a variety of meanings early in its history. It started with the idea of the Greek gods being at peace and rest. They had no needs. They were blessed. Then the Greek word developed as a way to express the thought that human beings who had their physical needs met are like the gods—blessed. Prosperity equaled happiness! The Bible picked it up and changed the Greek word’s connotations. It often does this with human thought-forms. So we have to ask, “What does the Bible mean by blessedness?”
In Matthew 5:3-12, the New Testament Greek word is makarios. Bible translators use the English words “blessed” or “happy” to render it. Commentators point out a connotation: a blessed person has the advantage of being a beneficiary of the Almighty’s assistance. God likes you and sends good fortune your way! Yet the ideas latent in makarios are deeper and broader. Material well-being might be involved in God’s blessing, but a better happiness is hidden within his blessing of a human being. It transcends the joy afforded by worldly things. Blessedness is seen by the Bible as an emotional high created through inner satisfaction and fulfillment. Joy comes because you relate well to God, and he to you. Blessedness is a matter of relationship!
Martyrs and sufferers can be happy, blessed people. Jesus told John the Baptist’s disciples to remind their afflicted master: “Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me” (Mt. 11:6, niv). Biblical blessedness brushes off the idea of prosperity and material quantity, and it takes on the idea of internal quality. Blessedness, from the perspective of scripture, requires a soul committed to the Lord as it works out in purity
of conduct its relationship to its Savior. You’re truly fortunate when your behavior is holy and honest through your relationship with Christ Jesus. Know this experience, and you’re living a blessed life.