In the New Testament, the Greek word for blessed is makarios, which has a very special meaning. You see it in rapid fire in our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .
- Blessed are those who mourn . . .
- Blessed are the meek . . .
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . .
- Blessed are the merciful . . .
- Blessed are the pure in heart . . .
- Blessed are the peacemakers . . .
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness . . .
- Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you . . .
To be blessed in the biblical sense means considerably more than our modern meaning of the word happy. Happy is good, but it does not rise to the level of blessed, because happiness is based on circumstances. In good circumstances we are happy; in bad circumstances we are angry or sorrowful or frightened. But for the person who is in a state of biblical blessedness, what is going on around him or her has nothing to do with what is going on inside.
To be blessed is to be in possession of the favor of God, which is entirely unaffected by the circumstances of life. It is experiencing the highest level of spiritual prosperity, no matter how much or how little physical prosperity one is experiencing at the time. Homer wrote of the mythical Greek gods as being blessed in themselves, a state unaffected by the world of men, who were subject to poverty, weakness, and death. Homer described this state as being “of the gods,” who were elevated above earthly suffering and the limitations of earthly life.
The apostle Paul expressed this idea beautifully in his letter to the Philippians:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11b-13)
In the Beatitudes Jesus set forth in His majestic sermon, He made it clear that those who have God as their father are blessed, regardless of the circumstances they are currently facing in life and in death. This is the experience of the person who has been saved by grace and who daily experiences God’s salvation and forgiveness of sins . . . all of which is altogether apart from his outward condition. Because of our union with Christ, we are raised above earthly suffering and the limitations of earthly life, because we know that we are eternally His and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ and His continual care.
We must always keep in mind what the word blessed does not mean. It does not mean:
- Healthy are you . . .
- Untroubled are you . . .
- Prosperous are you . . .
- Popular are you . . .
- Successful are you . . .
- Admired are you . . .
To be blessed by the Best is to be deeply secure in our relationship with our Savior. It is to be filled with joy unspeakable and profound contentment to be who we are—because we are His. And the life of the one who is blessed is to be marked by rejoicing and gladness, “because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!