Adult Bible Fellowship- THE RIGHT ATTITUDES

The Right Attitudes

April 2016

 

Introduction: The beatitudes are some of the best known verses in the Sermon on the Mount.  This is part of Christ’s first teachings in His ministry.  He begins by saying,   “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.”    Jesus does not begin by teaching what a man should do, but begins by teaching what a man should think.  We are caught up with doing, and it is one of the areas of failure in our lives.   We are more concerned with what we do than with who we are.  We are more concerned for saying the right thing than we are of thinking the right thing. 

When we raised out kids, we raised them to be good Baptists.  We know that they are good little Baptists because they… do the right things, they sing the right songs, they carry their Bibles to church, and they give a quarter in the Sunday school offering.  But, if that is all we do, we still fail if we do not impact their attitudes, if we do not touch the heart of our kids for the things of the Lord. 

Christ begins with the attitudes.  He wants men to think right in order to be right.  There are eight, some say nine beatitudes.  They are Blessings on:

  1. The poor in Spirit
  2. On those who mourn
  3. On the meek
  4. On those who hunger and thirst after righteousness
  5. On the merciful
  6. On the pure in heart
  7. On the peacemakers
  8. On the persecuted.
  9. On those that men revile.

You will notice that the purity that Christ is looking for is not outward purity.  It is purity in the heart.   We have it backwards.  We put filth into our minds and hearts and then put on the show of righteousness and we wonder why we are not blessed.  If people attack us for something we do, God knows our hearts, and if they are pure, we will be blessed by God. 

Now, turn over to Luke 6.  Again, this is the other occurrence of the beatitudes in the scriptures.   In Luke 6, we are looking at Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, and Luke mentions the beatitudes,   but Luke also mentions four Woattitudes.   When Christ gave the beatitudes, He also gave four woes.  They are not included in Matthew, but we know that the Lord mentioned these four woes along with the eight beatitudes.  He gives men a choice.

  • Is attitude something inherent or is it a choice?
  • Are we able to control our attitudes?
  • Are we able to teach our children how to control their attitudes?
  • Are we doing a good job at training correct attitudes? Why or why not?

To begin with, please turn with me to Deuteronomy chapter 11.

Deuteronomy  11:29  And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.

When the children of Israel finally made it into the Promised Land, the Lord commanded them to put a blessing on one mountain and a curse on an opposing mountain.  The blessing was pronounced on Mount Gerazim and the Curse on mount Ebal. 

Men by nature would much rather think about God’s blessings than God’s curses.  I asked the folks in our church one day many years ago how many had heard of the beatitudes.  Every hand went up.  I asked how many had heard these Woattitudes, and not one hand went up.  We love to hear how we can be blessed.  We do not want to hear about how we can be cursed.  God wants men to know of the choice.  When the children of Israel came into the land, six tribes stood on mount Gerizim.

Deuteronomy 27:12 these shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin:

 These other tribes stood on mount Ebal.   

Deuteronomy 27:13 and these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

 God put six tribes on one mountain and six on the other.  Notice that there is not one of Jacob’s sons by his two concubines on Mount Gerazim.   Simeon, Levi, Judah and Issachar are all sons of Leah and Joseph and Benjamin are sons of Rachel.  Notice also that the firstborn is not placed on the mountain of blessing, but on the mountain of the cursing.   He as you know was rejected by God for defiling his Father, by sleeping with his father’s concubine. 

In Joshua 8:33 we read,

 Joshua 8:33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.

 When the children of Israel entered into Canaan, they obeyed the Word of the Lord. Joshua had the tribes assemble on these mountains and read the curses and the blessings.   We read

34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.

  • What was the importance of saying out loud the blessings and curses?
  • Did the children of Israel understand the way of blessings?
  • When did they stop following the Lord? Had they rehearsed those blessings and curses to the next generation?

 God was giving them in no unmistakable language the choices that they had.  It was based on their obedience.  

 When the Lord gave the beatitudes and the woattitudes,   in like manner after he went up into the mountain, He set before them the blessings and the cursings.   Only in this case, the Lord was not looking at the outward, He was looking into the heart of man and pronouncing God’s blessings and curses not on deeds, but on attitudes. 

 Man has a problem.  It is not how he looks. It is his heart.  The Bible says that man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.  Man can’t see the heart.  He sees things on the outside, and man’s eyesight does not go very deep.  

 When young men look to find a wife, they look on the outward appearance.  When many young women dress, in our world, they put all their effort in outward adorning and dress to be seen.  But they forget to adorn their hearts. 

 God does not look at the things that we look at.  He is not impressed by what impresses us.   Here is the first woattitude.
 
  1. The First Woe – Riches

           Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.

This passage is not talking about people being rich financially.  The passage in front of us is not talking about the outward, but the inward.  Riches are not outward.  The Woattitudes are not something you see, but who you are.   A man who is rich in his own attitudes has need of nothing.  The church of Laodicea was a church that was rich and increased with goods,

Revelation 3:17  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

 You will notice that the judgment of this church was not because they were rich.  The thought comes from their own lips.  It is an attitude not a condition.  Their riches were not a means to providing for those who had need.  Their riches were a means to provide their own needs.  Because they could take care of their own need, all that they needed came from themselves.  They did not need God!   They did not need anyone.   Jesus in some of his first teachings was confronting a common misconception of the day.   The people of Jesus’ day believed that riches were a sign of God’s blessings.  Why, if they were a sign of blessings, did he place them in the woattitudes and not in the beatitudes?

When we read the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 28, one thing stands out;   the blessings and curses are parallel.   Verse 4 goes with verse 18 for instance.  Verse 4 is the blessing on the fruit of the body.  Verse 18 is the curse on the fruit of the body.  Verse 5 goes with verse 17,   Verse 6 with verse 19, Verse 8 with verse 21, Verse 10 with verse 25, Verse 13 with verse 26.   The curses touch on the same subject as the blessings.  

The same thing seems to be true of the beatitudes and the Woattitudes.   Verse 24 seems to be the antithesis of verse 20.  You are blessed if you are poor in verse 20 and there is a woe pronounced upon the one who is rich in verse 24. 

The words of Luke are explained in Matthew with these words, 

Matthew 5:3 blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Luke is not talking about poor as far as outward poverty.  Luke is talking about the poor in spirit.  When he gives the antithesis in verse 24 he is talking about the rich in spirit.  The poor in spirit are blessed, and there is a woe pronounced on the rich in spirit.  Why?  Again it is because the one who is rich in spirit has no need for help, for guidance, for anything.  If they have money, the money allows them to be increased with goods without a need for prayer. The Bible says, 

James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

What does it say?  It says that God has chosen those who are poor.  Does that mean that God does not choose those who are rich?  No!   What it does say is that it is hard for the rich to be rich in faith.  God chooses those who please Him with faith.  The poor are chosen because they are rich in faith.   They love the Lord.  They need the Lord and they seek the Lord.   The rich (and I am not talking about outward riches) do not need faith.  Their attitude is an attitude of “needing nothing.”   

  1. Woe Number Two – Woe to you who are full

Luke 6:25 Woe unto you that are full! For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.

 

Once again this is a parallel passage.  The blessing in verse 21 is on those who are hungry, for they shall be filled.  Then later he pronounces a curse or a woe on those who are full, for at some point, you will hanger.  

 It is hard to train a dog because he seems to only learn from immediate gratification.  If you find that he did something wrong, if you catch him doing it, you can teach him, but if you find a chewed shoe and it has been chewed on a while back, it does no good at all to scold or spank your dog.  He has no idea why you would spank him.  If he does something good and you wait a few minutes to give him a treat, he has no way of knowing why he is getting a treat.  

 “I had a gal come and bring me a video on how to train a dog.  It was a very interesting video but I couldn’t get my dog to sit long enough to watch it.” 

Men are really into instant gratification.  In Ecclesiastes we read, 

 

Ecclesiastes 8:11 because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

 God does not always spank a person at the same moment that the person rebels against him.  This was the problem in Israel.    They sinned against the Lord and the Lord brought famine and pestilence on them.   But the children of Israel did not put two and two together.  Listen to what they said,

 

Jeremiah 44:18 but since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.

 They put two and two together and it came out that the reason for the bad things in their lives was because they stopped serving the queen of heaven.  Since God did not execute the punishment right away, they attributed it to some other cause, some other god.  People today do much of the same.  They think that they are not being blessed because they have not sought money.  They have not made money enough of a God.  Next time, we will put more thought into money.   Instead of understanding that the beatitudes tell us that God rewards a man who is hungry and takes from a man who is full, we attribute it to not having enough.  God attributes it to having too much. 

 The same thing is true of rewards.  We want to have a return on our investment.  If we serve God, he is obligated to give us a reward.  If we do not receive a reward, we will go where we will get a reward.   The world rewards us immediately.  God does not always give us the reward that He wants us to have.  Listen, In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord says this three times.

In the case of alms.

 

Matthew 6:2  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

 

When it comes to prayer

Matthew 6:5 and when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

 

When it comes to fasting.

Matthew 6:16 moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

 The men on this earth want immediate gratification.  If they are going to do, they want it to be done to them, now.   God says, later. 

In the case of alms:  

thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

 In the case of prayer:  

pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

 

When it comes to fasting:  

and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

 

But, and this is what is hard, when?   Not now, later.  Why?   Faith.  Faith is not what you see.  Faith is believing that we have a good God who keeps His word.   But we need it now?   You want it now?  If you receive it now, you will forfeit it later.   Would you rather have a little now, the spice of earth, or God’s glory later, and the spice of heaven?   That is the choice that you make.   It is really hard for people to give up the spice of earth.  We want it.  If we have to work 80 hours a week for it so we can have it, we will.  Imagine the devil’s thinking.  “The person wants it now, I will see that He gets it.  He will exchange something of infinite value in the future, for a mere trinket now.  I will get him so busy pursuing trinkets that he will not have time to serve God.  They wanted it now, and that’s what they will get.  They will forfeit the blessing for the cursing.”   Because we wanted to be full and to have, God will not be able to bless us, but He does pronounce a woe upon us.   

 Do we know it?   Once again there is a Gerazim on this side and there is Mount Ebal on that side.  Mount Ebal is all about instant gratification.  That’s the reason why Reuben is over on that side.  He wanted it now.  Over here there is Levi and Judah.  They have made a decision.  They wanted God to bless them. 

 

Hebrews 11:13  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

 

Look at the fools.  These never did get it.  All they got was a promise.  They died as beggars.  They died as paupers.  They had nothing!   They could have had all things.   They did not desire immediate gratification.   They sought for something that others couldn’t see.  It was afar off.  It was further than most people can see.  It was impossible to comprehend.  You could watch the others take possession and have, but these men never had a possession.  They only had promises, and those promises were their life.  They lived for the promises.