Bella Vista Church of Christ



Jeff Grisham


Blessed and Dearly Loved


  In my former life I worked for a mid-sized building products company headquartered in Springfield, Missouri. I had started the job in October of 1992, just after Staci and I returned from our honeymoon. It was an entry-level position that didn’t bring home much money, but the owner was a really good man. I remember one day after I had worked there for a couple of years when Staci, Luke, and I were on our way to visit my parents and had stopped for breakfast at a local restaurant. We were finishing our meal and the owner of the company for which I worked stopped by our table, picked up our check and said, “I have heard that you are really doing a good job for us, and I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your hard work. Thank you.” He took our check, went and paid it and left. It is hard to describe what that simple act of appreciation meant to two young people with a baby. I do remember the effect it had on my attitude toward my job. There was nothing that he could have asked me to do that I would not have done and tried to have done well. I found out later that he did this for several of his employees, whether they were part-time workers or middle management.


  Over the past few weeks we have been studying the Sermon on the Mount. For a long time I had seen the Beatitudes that we find in Matthew 5:3-12 as commands. I pictured them as “Be poor in spirit, and yours is the kingdom. Mourn your sinful condition and you will be comforted.” And soon. While I do believe that the characteristics described in the opening verses of this great discourse describe life in the Kingdom, there was a word that I was missing, blessed.


  When we look at the context of that sermon and the crowd who heard it that day, we see people who came to Jesus seeking life, hope, and help. When Jesus saw them and began this teaching his first words were words of blessing. He wanted them to know that they were seen and dearly loved by God. He wanted to make sure they knew they were valuable to God who had created them in His image.


  Do we realize this? We know that Jesus makes serious demands of those who will be called by His name. Some of these commands we will no doubt find difficult. How much more diligently will we pursue the fulfillment of these commands if we first know that we are seen, valued, and dearly loved by God? We are loved by God who was willing to come and meet us where we are, and loved too much by Him to remain as we are. God was willing to pick up our check even before we realized what we owed. The life described in the Beatitudes is one that characterizes life in the Kingdom. It is the life that Jesus came to make possible. It is one to be lived with hope and joy, and that begins as we realize how much God loves us.


—Jeff Grisham