Luke 2:52: Jesus grew in wisdom daily, and in stature, and in favor with God and man.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the song “Walk like a Man” by the Four Seasons or not, although you’d have to live in a salt mine deep underground to avoid it. In the song, a father gives some advice to his son, whose girlfriend has treated him wrong, telling the boy to keep his head up and to “walk like a man,” presumptively away from his girlfriend.
Now, that sound like pretty good advice to me, to walk away from what amounts to emotional abuse, but the song made me think about what it means to walk like a man (or a woman), that is, what it means to live life in the way God intended for us to. The Bible is full of advice on this matter, but I think the best came during in the Sermon on the Mount with what we call the Beatitudes. You’re no doubt familiar with them, but I don’t think it will hurt to go over them again.
A fourth-century church father, St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived in Cappadocia in Asia Minor, defined “beatitude” in this way:
“Beatitude is a possession of all things held to be good, from which nothing is absent that a good desire may want. Perhaps the meaning of beatitude may become clearer to us if it is compared with its opposite, and the opposite of beatitude is misery, and misery means being afflicted unwillingly with painful sufferings.”
We were created to tend toward pleasure and to avoid pain, so we should be practicing the Beatitudes as part to our God-given nature. Sometimes we don’t and that causes us pain.
The Beatitudes emphasize humility and contrition, and an awareness of our sins, which causes us to mourn for them. We are also given a promise that the Kingdom of Heaven is ours if we follow Jesus. We need to desire justice for all people as much as we need food and drink, and if we are merciful, we will be shown mercy. If we have these qualities, we will see or experience God fully and become children of God, which causes us to make peace wherever peace is needed. Doing so may cause us to be persecuted, but such persecution allows us to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
Now, Jesus’ prescription for walking as children of God has a lot more to it than the advice given in “Walk like a Man,” but the rewards for doing so are so much better than the simple idea of walking away from trouble. Praise God for giving us the way to fully become God’s children. Amen.