Stewarding the Beatitudes – #2 Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
January 19, 2024
We are in a six-part series looking at the Beatitudes through the lens of our steward theology. Our premise is that the blessed or happy life Jesus is announcing comes through the fully surrendered life of the steward. Each Beatitude depicts an aspect of this stewarded life. To help us, we are considering the correlates to the Beatitudes – what we might call the Bad-Attitudes. This week we will look at verses 2 and 3.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Miserable are those who have no compassion for no one will show them compassion.
Miserable are those who seek to dominate and control, for the earth will slip through their fingers.
My frustration with the Beatitudes comes from my likely misplaced belief that Jesus should have chosen more important, fundamental doctrines to highlight than what seems to be some enigmatic and inconsequential areas of focus. These two verses are the epitome of such teachings.
Mourners? Meek? Surely Jesus would have been better advised to impart His praise on more cardinal characteristics of a faithful disciple. Under the iron fist of Roman tyranny, this was no rallying cry to mobilize the oppressed to action. Nor did it seem a helpful description of a deeply spiritual journey to self-enlightenment or greater affinity with the Almighty. What do mourning and meekness have to do with the coming of the kingdom of God in all its power and glory?
Starting with verse two, this is where we might benefit from the lenses offered by steward theology. To mourn is to enter into the pain and loss of another. It is to have compassion, which means to “suffer with.” This is an act of selflessness that is emblematic of a steward’s heart. It places the needs of another ahead of our own. It willingly rebuffs our sinful inclinations to buffer our defenses against anything that would intrude on our happiness. A steward’s heart invites them, embraces them, and makes them its own.
Blessed are the stewards who live so open-handedly and open-heartedly that they can be an incarnate presence in the lives of their neighbors in their rejoicing and their grieving. Their happiness includes the awareness that God will meet them in their own times of sorrow with His healing comfort. This means that they are set free to expend themselves on the needs of others, knowing their own needs will always be met in abundance. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Verse three seems even more paradoxical. The last label we would think to assign to a person of meekness is ‘world conqueror’. The biblical term for meek is πραΰς, praus. It is used by Jesus in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle (praus) and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” It is used in Matthew 21:9 quoting the prophet Zechariah, “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle (praus) and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” It is also used by the psalmist, and it is helpful to see it in its full context in Psalm 37.
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7 Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity.
Bible commentator Matthew Henry adds that the meek show joy and happiness under dire circumstances. No matter what happens in the world around them, they latch on to God’s provision and plan for their lives.
Steward theology defines a steward as a fully surrendered follower of Jesus. They claim nothing for themselves but see all creation as both God’s Lordship and aligning with God’s eschatological intentions. The fruit of this surrendered heart is selflessness, service, and quiet confidence. Does this sound like a synonym for meekness? Gentleness?
Our BadAttitude paints a picture of one who is always grasping at control believing that with it will come security and some modicum of peace. They strain to seize the world and the harder they try to clutch it, the more elusive it proves to be. The fruit of this grasping is anxiety and despair. Miserable are those who seek to dominate and control, for the earth will slip through their fingers.
The meek, the surrendered, those with a steward’s heart will stand empty before God and He will fill them up. Later in this same Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us that if we ‘seek first the kingdom of God’ all the things we are tempted to clutch at will be given to us as a gift. (Matthew 6:33) What a blessing! We come in meekness and leave with God’s abundance poured out in our lives. This is not a ‘quid pro quo’ or some new version of the prosperity gospel. Quite the opposite. We come wanting nothing but Jesus, and we are given Jesus and the earth as well.
May we know this blessedness, this happiness, as ones who are free to feel and show compassion and who come with surrendered, steward hearts before the throne of grace.
Dr. Rodin is the Founder and Content Expert of the Center for Steward Leader Studies. He also serves as President of Kingdom Life Publishing and Rodin Consulting Inc.