March 24: “Counter-intuitive Holiness”

8 Minute Read


Deuteronomy 2:1–3:29
Luke 6:12-38
Psalm 67:1-7
Proverbs 11:27


Luke 6:20 (CSB): “Then looking up at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours.'”


Jesus’ words in our Verse for Today are the very reason why we must read God’s Word.

Far too many Christians settle for morality when they should be pursuing holiness. Morality is a standard set by the culture and holiness is the standard set by God in His Word.

When we read Jesus’ words in Luke 6, we realize that no culture would come up with such things. We simply cannot pursue holiness, or even know what holiness is, unless we are reading God’s Word and finding out what it says.

So, let’s listen to Jesus’ words and see if we can understand exactly what He’s saying and what He’s calling us to do.

Luke 6:20 (CSB): “Then looking up at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, because the kingdom of God is yours.'”

The word that Luke chose that is translated “poor” in the Christian Standard Bible actually means “poverty” and “destitute.” It doesn’t describe someone whose income isn’t as much as their expenses. He speaks of someone who has no income at all. They are on the streets. They are destitute.

So, is Jesus celebrating financial poverty? Is that the attribute that is necessary to inherit the kingdom of God? Of course not.

If we look at Matthew’s account (it is quite possible that Jesus taught the beatitudes on more than one occasion), he quotes Jesus as saying …

Matthew 5:3 (CSB) “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

I believe that Jesus was talking about poverty of spirit. He was saying that those who inherit the kingdom of God have realized that they are spiritually destitute. They know that they are guilty sinners before a holy God. And, with that knowledge of themselves, they are motivated to fall at the mercy of the court, pleading for grace at the foot of the cross.

Just like I wrote in yesterday’s blog post, “One Mindset that Attracts Jesus,” Jesus is attracted to those who are keenly aware of their sinfulness and guilt because they are the only ones prepared to receive the grace that He wants to lavish upon them.

Now let’s look at the next thing Jesus said …

Luke 6:21 (CSB): “Blessed are you who are now hungry, because you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, because you will laugh.”

Once again, a knowledge of the original language in which the Bible was written (or access to a good Bible study recourse) makes us aware that the word “hunger” doesn’t talk of the uncomfortable feeling you get as you are awaiting a meal. The original word that Luke used speaks of a strong desire for food that someone would feel if they had missed many meals.

So, is Jesus celebrating hunger? Is He saying that we should go without food to gain points with Him? Of course not.

Once again, when we go back to Matthew 5, we hear Jesus adding a qualifier…

Matthew 5:6 (CSB): “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

Jesus is speaking of people who crave to know what righteousness is and then to live righteous lives. They want to know God’s Word and crave to live according to it just like they would crave a meal if they were starving.

They know that they fall so far short of God’s perfect standard so they ask for and receive His grace and forgiveness. Out of gratitude, they crave to live for Jesus by being in His Word and making the necessary adjustments in their life.

So, what about the next thing Jesus said in Luke 6:21 (“Blessed are you who weep”)?

In Matthew 5, the acknowledgement of weeping comes after the blessings pronounced on the poor in spirit. So, in Matthew 5, it seems that the weeping has to do with brokenness over sin.

But, in Luke 6, it comes after the craving for righteousness and before being hated by others for pursuing righteousness.

So, the weeping referenced in Luke 6 seems to be due to the injustice of being mistreated and hated by others for pursuing righteousness.

When we are serious about following Jesus and are mistreated for it, we may grieve and even weep like the Psalmist often did. But those tears will only last for a short while. Soon enough, our tears will be turned into laughter when we are in the presence of Jesus forevermore.

Now, let’s look at Jesus’ final words in this section of Scripture …

Luke 6:22-23 (CSB): “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you, insult you, and slander your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy. Take note—your reward is great in heaven, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the prophets.”

If we simply read the first part of the previous two verses, they would seem to be impossible to comply with. “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy” when we are the object of hatred, exclusion, insults, and slander because of Jesus. How in the world can someone do such a thing?

That answer is found in the very words that came from Jesus’ mouth:

Luke 6:23 (CSB): “… Take note — your reward is great in heaven, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the prophets.”

The joy doesn’t come in our present injustice. The joy comes in knowing that if we respond properly to the injustice, we will be rewarded in our Heavenly home.


So, let’s wrap up what Jesus has said in Luke 6:20-23:

  • We are blessed if we feel the gravity of our spiritual destitution. When we feel the weight of our sin and guilt, then we are prepared to receive the remedy (the Gospel) … which gives us entrance into the Kingdom of God.
  • We are blessed when we are starving for God’s Word and have an insatiable hunger to pursue holiness. If this is true of us, God is going to fill us up with the joy of making progress on our road to Christlikeness.
  • We are blessed when we mourn as we are horribly treated for being a serious Jesus-follower. There will eventually come a time when our mourning will be replaced with laughter, if not in this life then in eternity.
  • We are blessed when we are treated horribly for following Jesus because we will be generously rewarded in Heaven if we respond appropriately.

While these action points make sense, we wouldn’t come up with them on our own. We have to get into God’s Word because it so often says things that are counter-intuitive. So, read your Bible and ask the Lord to help you as you commit to putting it into practice.

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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