The word philosophy comes from the greek (philo sophia) meaning love of wisdom. At its essence, philosophy is about reality and how wisdom answers the questions of life – what is real, true and good. James quoted Jesus’s sermon on the mount and describes the beatitudes as wisdom from heaven (James 3:17). He contrasts this with worldly wisdom that he describes as earthly, sensual and demonic (v. 15).
This is actually the prelude to this well-known verse – “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (4:7).” How? by submitting to the wisdom (philosophy) of the kingdom of heaven. The point is that light overcomes darkness, truth beats lies and His wisdom overcomes all others.
It’s essential that as pastors we teach God’s people to walk in God’s wisdom so they will walk in God’s blessings. This principle holds true regardless of the setting. The beatitudes are God’s wisdom for church, for worklife, for business, for politics, for the home – It’s God’s wisdom and it brings blessing.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3). Both the first and last beatitude promise “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” These bookends are so that we will know the topic of the discourse. We are talking about the Kingdom of God*.
How is poverty a blessed condition? Well it’s not! The poor in spirit isn’t about net worth**, it means those who recognize their spiritual need. It can be contrasted with self-sufficiency. Poor in spirit is the attitude of the tax collector in Luke 18, “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
This first beatitude is about dependence on God. What would happen next Monday if every Christian in your community showed up for work with a fierce realization of their moment by moment need for God – For His mercy and grace, for His power, for His word, for His wisdom, for His direction. This is the first and possibly the greatest principle for kingdom living – You must depend on the King. What if the Mayor, the school board, the police, the CEO, the factory worker, the pastor and the truck driver depended on the King?
*Matthew’s Hebrew audience would have been more comfortable with the phrase Kingdom of Heaven. Luke used Kingdom of God.
**Wealth can be seductive and often brings with it a temptation to trust in “uncertain riches.” see Prov 11:28, 1Tim 6:17.
Adapted from Blessed2Bless: Applying the Timeless Wisdom of the Divine Entrepreneur to Your Life and Business.