Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Sermon on the Mount is "Our Constitution for Perfection"

          As I was studying the beatitudes that are in Matthew Chapter 5 Verses 3-11, I wanted to learn more about them.  Looking at footnote “a” in verse 3, it says:  The Latin beatus is the basis of the English “beatitude,” meaning “to be fortunate,” “to be happy,” or “to be blessed.”  From that, I would surmise that the definition of “beatitude” is even greater than happiness that can come from without.  The Institute manual explains beatitudes as thus:  Blessedness is defined as being higher than happiness. ‘Happiness comes from without and is dependent on circumstances; blessedness is an inward fountain of joy in the soul itself, which no outward circumstances can seriously affect.’ (Dummelow’s Commentary)” It is evident that, in order to find true and lasting happiness, we need to strive to have all of the beatitudes become a part of ourselves.
          The manual describes the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount as “Our Constitution for Perfection” that we all should strive to work on.  It then goes into great detail about how each and every one of the beatitudes can help us live a happier, more blessed life.  Not only that, but as the Institute manual says, “How can the Sermon on the Mount help you to become as your Father in heaven? Has it occurred to you as you read this sermon, that Jesus is actually describing the qualities of an exalted person? With this in mind, the Beatitudes become steps of perfection that enable us to truly love God and our fellowmen.”  There were three beatitudes that had explanations that really stuck out to me that I wanted to share.  I want to explain how they have either helped me in the past or can help me presently and in the future increase my happiness.
1.     From the Institute manual:  “Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit  “To be poor in spirit is to feel yourselves as the spiritually needy, ever dependent upon the Lord for your clothes, and your food and the air you breathe, your health, your life; realizing that no day should pass without fervent prayer of thanksgiving, for guidance and forgiveness and strength sufficient for each day’s need.””
This explanation of that beatitude really stuck out to me because I have a tendency to fall short in this area.  I have a struggle trying to find out when I need to do something and when I can rely on the Lord to help me with it.  I am a very independent and ambitious person.  Those can be good traits, except for when it causes me to think that I can do everything on my own and that I do not need to ask for the Lord’s help.  Reading this helped me remember that it is okay to pray to the Lord in gratitude and also for guidance and forgiveness.  This really helped to emphasize the importance of daily, fervent prayer to me. 
2.     From the Institute manual:  “Blessed Are the Merciful  “Our salvation rests upon the mercy we show to others. Unkind and cruel words, or wanton acts of cruelty toward man or beast, even though in seeming retaliation, disqualify the perpetrator in his claims for mercy when he has need of mercy in the day of judgment before earthly or heavenly tribunals. Is there one who has never been wounded by the slander of another whom he thought to be his friend? Do you remember the struggle you had to refrain from retribution? Blessed are all you who are merciful for you shall obtain mercy!””
I really appreciated this commentary about being merciful.  It can be so heartbreaking when slander is spoken against you, yet not retaliating is very important.  I am not sure if this applies to what the Institute manual was trying to teach me, but it did come to my mind as I read it.  I know that it is not slander, but I get really tired of all of the comments that are made to me when I am pregnant.  I get very large very fast, and sometimes hurtful things (though probably unintentional) are said to me about it.  Even though I get really grumpy when I am pregnant, I am grateful that I have refrained from retaliating when such comments were made.  Regardless of that, I still want to go hide in a cave for the whole 9 months that I am pregnant so I do not have to endure anymore unnecessary comments!
3.     From the Institute manual:  “Blessed Are the Peacemakers  “Peacemakers shall be called the children of God. The troublemaker, the striker against law and order, the leader of the mob, the law-breaker are prompted by motives of evil and unless they desist will be known as the children of Satan rather than God. Withhold yourselves from him who would cause disquieting doubts by making light of sacred things for he seeks not for peace but to spread confusion. That one who is quarrelsome or contentious, and whose arguments are for other purposes than to resolve the truth, is violating a fundamental principle laid down by the Master as an essential in the building of a full rich life. ‘Peace and goodwill to men on earth’ was the angel song that heralded the birth of the Prince of Peace.””
This explanation was a good reminder to me of how I can continuously have peace in my home.  Yesterday, everyone was tired and was having a difficult time being peaceful.  However, I believe it is because we read the scriptures every night and pray together every morning and every evening that we were able to keep contention out of our home, even during a time when it would most likely be present.  I am grateful that I live in a home where we do not yell and where we can work out our differences with love and kindness.    

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