The Path to the Good Life

2015 Messages

In the Beatitudes. Jesus describes the characteristics of people who are living the good life.. The 8 beatitudes are a great sketch of what His disciplse and His church should look like.

Rob BarryMay 24, 2015Matthew 5:3-12; Matthew 18:21-35; Matthew 5:3-4; Matthew 5:5-6; Matthew 5:7; Matthew 5:8; Matthew 5:9; Matthew 5:10-11

Well, good morning. My name is Rob Barry. My role here, which is really fun, is just to help people connect in deep and authentic relationships. The harder part of that is helping them stay in them, because once you commit to anybody, you start fighting with them. Just like if you get married, you will have trouble, right? That's my role here, and it's a lot of fun.

Who I get to do that with is my wife, Leslie. Leslie and I met 15 or 16 years ago. We were Young Life leaders. We spent our summers at the Young Life camps up in Colorado. We got married the week of 9/11, which was crazy because you really didn't know at the time… I think it was a Tuesday. You didn't know if Saturday was coming or not. It was just a wheels-off time to get married.

When we were going through premarital counseling asking, "What do we want with our life?" we knew we wanted one thing. We wanted Colorado. That, to us, was the good life. Not a concrete jungle, a Dallas. If you asked us what the good life was when we got married, in our first year of marriage, we would have told you, "A Subaru with all-wheel drive, maybe a kayak mount on the top, REI underwear (lots of it), and naming our first son something strong like Leadville or Shavano Range." That would have been, to us, the good life.

I don't know what your good life looks like, but I know we all have a dream. Most of us are trying to figure out, "How do we get where we want to get to? How do we accomplish the good life?" I don't know you, but what I do know is when you're trying to move towards the good life, you're not trying to set yourself up for failure. If you're raising kids right now, none of you are raising kids in a way you know is going to send them over the cliff into failure. You're just not. Or if you are, you need to come talk to us.

Nobody is investing in their 401(k) in a way they know the thing is going to tank. If you're training for a marathon right now, your goal is to get across the line and get that medal in a certain time. You're not living your life today to try to get injured so you won't accomplish that goal. The problem with the good life for all of us is we don't know if the inputs we're making today are going to lead us to the good life. That's why we have to listen to what Jesus says about where the good life comes from.

Today we are going to be looking at probably the most popular passage throughout the history of the church about the good life. It's in Matthew, chapter 5. If you have your Bibles, you can open to Matthew, chapter 5. If you're like me, I didn't take Latin. The word beatitudes is, in and of itself, confusing. All that means in Latin is blessed. So Jesus says, "If you want to have a blessed life, it's right here." You don't have to go any further than Matthew, chapter 5.

When he is talking about these characteristics, this is not prescriptive like, "Go do these things. Go take this pill and this will happen." These are descriptive about what a disciple looks like. Here we go. Sermon on the Mount, starting with the Beatitudes. Here is where he goes…

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Then he says, "Blessed are you…" He makes it personal. "…when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." So here we go. What does "Blessed are the poor in spirit…" mean? Because I have to tell you, that confused me for years, even as a believer. "…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

1._ Blessed are the poor in spirit._ The most simple way to think about "Blessed are the poor in spirit…" is just that the characteristic of a disciple is somebody who realizes they are spiritually bankrupt. They are spiritually bankrupt. It gets really depressing when your bank account gets low, but even more if you're overdrawn. What Jesus wants to say is, "Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who realize that before a holy and incinerating God their bank account is overdrawn."

Another thing might be when you want to impress somebody, when you're trying to get a job, you have to make a resume. On that resume, you're trying to weed out what is not going to look good to them so you can slide that thing across that table, and you can just say, "I'm pretty awesome. You need to hire me. If you don't believe me, there's the proof." What it looks like to be poor in spirit is that before a holy God we have no resume with our good works that works with the Lord.

This popped up in my life a couple of years ago. Seven years ago, Leslie and I were leading this class called Merge. Merge is a premarital class. How many people have been through Merge in this class? A lot. So you guys are set up for success, as long as you didn't have a mentor couple like us. Premarital class is a married couple who they think gets it, like us, and four or five couples who are just learning, "What's God's biblical picture of marriage?"

I live with the mentality and the attitude of, "Blessed is Leslie Barry, because she is married to me." I kid you not. I'm like, "I'm an awesome husband. I'm awesome." What happened in that class is I got downwind of myself. I tasted what it was like to be poor in spirit, because what happened in that class is they weren't comparing husbands to every other husband in Dallas or in Richardson. They were throwing the Scriptures out there saying, "If you want to know what a godly husband looks like, read it."

Before God's standard as a husband I was just like, "Oh, my gosh. Leslie, you're not blessed. You might be blessed, but it is not because you have an awesome husband like me." Whenever you get in front of a holy God and his holy standard… He's going to say later in the Sermon on the Mount, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." You're like, "Who can do that?" Exactly.

If you want to know what a characteristic of a disciple looks like, it's somebody who realizes they don't have a resume before the Lord. They are spiritually bankrupt. They're overdrawn. This first Beatitude is what separates Christianity, Jesus, from any other religion on the face of the earth. It's not about being good enough.

Every other religion is, "You have to ascend to a place where you're going to be enlightened. You're born into this caste system. Be good, have a resume, so you can move one step further this way." Every other religion in this world is built on, "You have to have a resume before god." Jesus says, "Blessed are those who don't have a resume, who realize their resume is worth nothing." This is foundational.

If you're new to Watermark, if this is your first week to Watermark, welcome. Just realize the reason we sing here is not because we're awesome. It's because we realize we're spiritually bankrupt. If you're a woman, hide your purse, because we have a bunch of spiritually bankrupt people in here. All right, so here we go.

2._ Blessed are those who mourn._ If someone is living the good life, characterized by being poor in spirit and bankrupt, what that should produce in a disciple is mourning. Grieving. If you want to know what is "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted," the good news is comfort is coming. But in the moment, it is grief. It's mourning.

Here's what this looked like this week for a friend of mine. He was in Tennessee. He was in Chattanooga with his business partner. He is driving what he thinks is to Atlanta, and his wife calls him. She goes, "How is it going?" "Good. Good. We're just driving here." She goes, "Where are you?" He goes, "We're like a few miles outside of Knoxville." She is like, "Honey, you're going the wrong way." He is like, "No, I'm not. You're not in Tennessee. You're horrible with directions." All those things. She is like, "Honey, you're going the wrong way."

For a lot of us, that might be what it looks like to mourn and to grieve. If you're my age, 40 years old or 50, and you have thought for your whole life you've been going the right way, and you realize you have been going the wrong way… "I have to be good enough in my resume," and you're like, "No. That's not good enough." That's just like, "Oh, my gosh. It's back to Merge. What do I have to do?" It should produce, in a disciple, grief.

My friend had been going for an hour the wrong way, which means he has an hour back plus the two hours he has already missed out on. You just can't get that time back. When you realize your standard of good is not God's standard of good to relate with him, you just want to punch a dashboard. You're like, "Ah! I just wasted it." Or kick something (not your pet). It just produces a sense of grief in all of us. Someone who is living the good life is characterized by mourning and grieving their depravity.What that produces is meekness.

3._ Blessed are the meek._ What it means to be meek… I want you to think. When I say the word meek, I know somebody probably pops in your head. For me, that's Mr. Rogers. Let's face it. No man grows up wanting to be Mr. Rogers. That's just not the case. Meekness is maybe not exactly Mr. Rogers. Now he was meek and that's a guy who just loved kids well, but when you think about what the Scriptures say about someone who is meek, it's Jesus.

What we know about Jesus is he is the Creator of the seen and the unseen. Things you can't even see, that telescopes can't even see, he created them. Angels? Created. Jesus, God of the world, Creator of the world. That's who is meek. The God who commands angel armies. That's what it means to be meek. When we think of Jesus, we don't think about a guy in a bad cardigan playing with bad puppets and a train running around the whole place. Right? When we think about meek, we should think about Jesus.

What does that mean? What it means is meekness is power under control. Maybe another way to say it is humility. For us, somebody who is not fully God and fully man like Jesus was, what that might look like is when you realize you are spiritually bankrupt, which produces grieving and mourning. That just gives you a right view of yourself, where you're like, "Okay. I get it, Lord. I got it, Lord."

That's why we see people… Whenever anybody approaches Jesus in the Scriptures, they either want to kill him (they're a Pharisee), or the other response in Scripture is "Have mercy on me; I'm a sinner." Those are really the only two responses people have for Jesus. Or, "Help me! My daughter is dead." Right? So what it should produce in us is, "Lord, have mercy on me. I get who I am before a holy God." Then it says, "…will inherit the earth."

Someone who is living the good life, the blessed life, is characterized by a right, humble view of themselves. What that produces is a hunger to change. You know who you are and you're just like, "Okay. How do I get over here? How do I get back to the destination I need to get to? Because I can't get there by myself. I'm spiritually bankrupt. I can't get over there."

Last week, if you were here for the 9:00 service, we had no power. If you were here at the 11:00 service where we did have power, we took Communion together as a body of believers. We talked about how when you're thirsty and hungry, you can't satisfy your thirst from within. That's why we have water fountains all over our campus. Most of them don't work, just like most of our AV equipment, but that's why we at least try to put them out there, so you can satisfy your thirst.

You can't satisfy your thirst internally. When you're hungry, you can't satisfy your hunger internally. What Jesus wants to say is, "Look. You're spiritually bankrupt, but I have a righteousness for you that will satisfy you." That comes from outside of yourself. It's Jesus.

These first four Beatitudes really are the summary of the gospel, which is better said in 1 Corinthians. "Jesus died on a cross for our sins. He was buried and raised three days after that." We're spiritually bankrupt. That should produce grieving, mourning, and meekness. Now we realize the solution is Jesus. He wants to give us his righteousness.

4._ Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness._ Let me tell you, if you've ever been satisfied by a meal, it is awesome. We went Friday night with some good friends to Ten Fifty BBQ. I was like, "I could die right now. I'm so satisfied with moist brisket. I'm ready to go home. Take me home." If you've ever been satisfied by a good meal, that's what Jesus is talking about there. Jesus is the one to satisfy you.

His righteousness comes from him. He is also the one who gives you the power to change. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will…" Future tense, but a for-sure deal. "…be filled." Somebody who is living the good life is characterized by a satisfied hunger from Jesus. That changes the way we respond to others. So…

5._ Blessed are the merciful._ "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." When you're satisfied, now you can go take care of other people. You can go radically love other people. Jesus tells a story about somebody who has been radically satisfied, or somebody who should have been radically satisfied.

It comes to us in Matthew, chapter 18. There are three people in the story. There is a king. There is a servant who has borrowed like $3 trillion, something he could never pay back working for the rest of his life, for many lifetimes. Then there is another servant who has borrowed like $50,000. "Hey, I can go work for 6 months to a year, and I can pay that back."

This story is set up in Matthew, chapter 18, with a question. The disciples say this… In fact, it's Peter. He says, "Hey, Jesus, how many times should I forgive my brother?" That's one we've all heard, right? "How many times should I forgive my brother?" He is like, I'm awesome. "Seven?" which to a Jew is crazy. Seven times? "You're going to forgive someone seven times? Whew. You're holy."

Jesus is like, "Seven times seventy." They're like, "What? Seven times seventy?" They're doing the math. They're like, "That's…" What Jesus is saying is, "Number doesn't matter. Forgive them. Let me tell you a story. This king had let this guy borrow $3 trillion. This other guy, this servant, had borrowed $50,000 from the first guy. What happens is the king is ready to settle accounts."

He is like, "First guy (who owes me $3 trillion), come here. Hey man, I need you to write that check." The guy is like, "I can't write that check. It's $3 trillion." "You owe me $3 trillion." The guy pleads for his life to the king. The king just says, "Your debts are gone. Your debts are gone." Then the first guy is like, "Hey, come here. You owe me $50,000." The second guy is like, "I can't pay you back. I don't have the money." This guy who has been forgiven his debt grabs him by the throat and is like, "Pay me the money."

The king catches wind of it. You can imagine that doesn't sit well with the king. The king calls the first guy back in. He says (in my words), "What's going on? I just got rid of your debt." The way Jesus says it is that the kings says, "Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?" The point of the story is just that. Forgiven people forgive. People who have been shown extravagant mercy are merciful.

There is another story in Luke, chapter 7, which in summary just says, "People who have been forgiven much love much, but he who has been forgiven little loves little." The point of that story is not, "Have you been forgiven a little or have you been forgiven a lot?"

The point of the story is, "Do you get it? You have been forgiven $3 trillion. You were spiritually bankrupt, and Jesus has satisfied you and satisfied the penalty and the payment. You're free." People who have been forgiven forgive. You start to want to treat people the way Jesus has treated you, which is mercifully.

6._ Blessed are the pure in heart._ Someone who is living the good life is characterized by a God-like type mercy. That person begins to see life through a God-like perspective. As we talk about grace, mercy, and forgiveness… Look, I know people in this room are like myself. There is somebody in your life who you have just not been merciful to and have not forgiven. Maybe it's your spouse. Maybe it's your dad. I don't know who that is for you, but Jesus wants you to forgive that person.

All that means is, "I'm going to wipe that debt away. I'm no longer going to bring it up for future dealings with you. I'm not going to forget it; I'm just never going to bring it up in the future." When you begin to live with a merciful perspective, you get really locked in to a godly perspective. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." This one confused me a little bit for years as well. Probably the best way I think about what it means to be pure in heart is just these two things: You're single-minded and you're locked down on Jesus.

We talked earlier about Peter and the song, "Oceans." That's about Matthew 14. In that story, Jesus is on the water, and the waves are crazy. Jesus is like, "Peter, come here." He's like, "What? Me?" "Yeah. You." He's looking back. "Surely you meant John?" He's like, "Peter, come here." Peter gets out of the boat. He starts walking on the water.

What it means to be single-minded is somebody who is locked down on Jesus and can just go, "Okay, Lord, that doesn't make sense, to get out on the water, but I'm going to listen to you. I'm going to look you in the eyes, Jesus, and if you tell me to walk towards you, I'm going to walk towards you." It's Proverbs 3. "…lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."

The most helpful way for me to think about what it means to be pure in heart, to be single-minded, to be uncluttered by life, really has to do with Memorial Day. Most of us have friends who have served in the military. In the military, everybody has a CO. Everybody has a commanding officer. Even the highest general has a commander in chief who is a civilian, basically.

When you're thinking about what that looks like in the battlefield, the CO, the guy who is giving orders, that guy or lady usually has more information. They usually have a bigger idea of what the plan is and what the larger mission in life is. They maybe can see things the guy on the ground cannot see. When I think about what it looks like to be pure in heart for Rob Barry, it's just, "Is Jesus my CO?"

When things don't make sense… Yesterday, Jesus was not my CO. It caused frustration with kids. I kind of live with my kids with this mentality (which doesn't bless them), "Welcome to Camp Suck-It-Up." That doesn't bless anybody. I want comfort. I want to just numb myself with TV, and it's all about Rob. So there were several times yesterday where Jesus was not my CO. That's just divisive. People aren't loved when Jesus is not your CO.

Where this typically comes up with people is, "I think I know what's right. I want to go right." Jesus is like, "Hey, left. Left is the way." "Jesus, people are telling me to go this way. My advisors are telling me to go this way. This way makes sense." Jesus is like, "Go left. That's where blessing is." A great question to ask yourself is, "Who are you taking orders from in life right now? Is Jesus your CO?" That's what helps me a ton when I think about what it looks like to be pure in heart.

Now the other side of the coin on this whole deal is this. If you know part of my story, part of my story is not living single-minded. I was a believer, and I had this secret pornography addiction. I had this secret deal where I worshipped my reputation, and so I was managing information. Maybe I'll tell you 95 percent of what really happened because if I told you all 100 percent, you wouldn't think I'm awesome anymore.

If you're living with secrets, when Jesus says, "You have to confess that stuff," I'm telling you from experience, it will affect the way you hear Jesus and the way you see Jesus, even if you're in a right relationship with him. Someone who is living the good life, the blessed life, is characterized by God's perspective and listening to his Words, which begin to affect you as an agent for change.

7._ Blessed are the peacemakers._ " Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." If you have kids, I don't think this is like, "You're an awesome person at conflict resolution." If you have kids (we have three boys and a little girl), it is nonstop conflict resolution in our house. "You cannot punch him in the nose. That's not going to work. That's not how you love somebody." It is conflict, conflict, conflict. "Take responsibility, Jackson. Take responsibility for your actions, Bubba." I don't think that's what he is talking about here.

I think what Jesus is talking about here when he says, "Blessed are the peacemakers…" is what is said all throughout the New Testament, specifically in 2 Corinthians 5, that we are his agent to bring the gospel to other people. We're his ambassadors. We're his ministers of reconciliation. We're all his priests. We have the message of the good news. Which starts with the bad news: "You're bankrupt." Which ends with the good news which is: "Jesus wants to satisfy you, and he is all you need in order to be in a right relationship with God."

What it looks like to be an ambassador is just that we live with this message: be reconciled to God. That's what we're telling our friends. "Hey, be reconciled. Here is how you are reconciled to God: through the gospel, through the blood of Jesus. Not through your resume." I would just say we're all evangelists. You might think, "I'm not good at sharing the gospel. I'm not good at sharing my faith," but we're all evangelists for something.

Think about the last time you got so excited about a movie or something you bought. Maybe it's a Vitamix. I don't know what it is, but whatever that thing is for you where you're like, "I have to tell people." I'm not proud of this, but for me it had to do with this lousy/awesome board game named Catan. Any Catan players out there? If Risk is too much of a commitment for you, then you kind of take one step back and now you're in the Catan camp.

We were with our Foundation Group. A Foundation Group is basically a Community Group of newly married couples. They grab a mentor couple or a leader, and they put you in with those couples. You're with them for 18 months. Les and I jumped in to do that. They brought us so sweetly to the world of Catan. It's all I thought about.

I'm online. I'm looking at Catan strategy and, "Should you build here or build a road?" All this. I'm wearing Leslie out. Les would be like, "What are you going back there?" "Nothing. I'm just checking out some headlines. Nothing is going on." It got to a point where starting April first (my wife's birthday is in April), she goes, "This is my birthday month. No Catan this month. We're done." I was like, "Okay. So your birthday month is not about me? Okay. We can do that." She'll want to play Catan. No, she didn't. She didn't.

I don't know what it is you're an evangelist for, but we're all evangelists for something. What I would say, and what I think Jesus would say, is changed people tell others about the person who changed them. That's what we do. " Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Someone who is living the good life, who is characterized by sharing the gospel, is either loved or rejected by his people.

8._ Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness._ "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This might be a no-brainer, but sharing with people that they are spiritually bankrupt is not always good news. Some of us have had those conversations with friends. "We have no resume before God. We're spiritually bankrupt," and it is an insult to them. "What?" "Yeah. We're all separated from God by our sin. That's just the bad news." It's offensive.

Telling people they're spiritually bankrupt doesn't always sound like good news. Here's what you need to know about this Beatitude: "…for righteousness' sake…" The real problem, the real reason you're persecuted, is because people want to bring their righteousness to God. Every other religious system in the history of the world is, "Bring your good deeds before god." It's like, "Hey, what's really offensive…" Let's just be honest. This is about the fact that you bring nothing to God, and it's all about Jesus' righteousness. You're going to be insulted.

He makes it even more personal. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad…for in the same

way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Here is what I want you to hear right there. "It's because of me." Because of Jesus. "It's because of my righteousness. It's not about you. You're a messenger."

In the same way they treated the prophets in the past, which is, "You're not from God." They told Jesus he was influenced by Beelzebub. "You're not of God." The same message as the prophets. Expect it. It's like, "Take a number and get in line." It's because of Jesus that we're persecuted.

Tim Keller says this better than I could ever say it. Tim Keller is a pastor up in New York. This is what he says. "The gospel both attracts and repels people. If you're always getting persecuted, you're probably a jerk. If you're never getting persecuted, you're probably a coward." Most of us are on one end of that spectrum there.

Fourteen years ago, Leslie and I thought we were on the track to the good life. We read the Beatitudes, and it was just confusing. We're going to watch a video here. If you have seen this video before, don't spoil it for the person right next to you. But when God got ahold of our hearts, something like this happened.


I love that. They are there mocking him, to his face. That was my story. If you're trying to live the good life, to build the good life, and you don't have an idea that you're spiritually bankrupt, that Jesus has made provision for you, that it's his righteousness that comes from outside of you, then that's going to happen.

You're going to read the Beatitudes and it's going to look like what Anderson Cooper said. "That looked like a potato." That gorgeous thing looked like potato, and one day the world is going to go, "Oh. Jesus. I get it." But the good life starts by living out those characteristics. When God gets ahold of your heart around the gospel, the painting flips and everything becomes clear.

One easy thing to do as you guys leave here today, just an easy application, is when you're driving home today… It might be with your spouse or your roommate, or if you're by yourself here, the next Watermark member you know, you can ask them this question. One question around the Beatitudes. I guarantee you I'm going to give you an opportunity to practice meekness today. "Yay!"

The question is...Out of all those Beatitudes, which one of those do you feel like I have the most opportunity for growth in? Just let the person who is right next to you, God's provision for you, speak. They're God's provision for you. You're going to have an opportunity to practice humility and meekness.

For me, what my wife and my friends told me years ago was, "You have a mercy problem." I was like, "Okay." "You are not merciful." So what do you do? Once you know the answer, "You're poor in spirit," what do you do with that? That's the diagnosis. So what do you do? You do kind of what you do in math in college. I despised math in college. Thankfully I have a good friend who has a PhD in mathematics, the Lord bless him.

If you're in Algebra 2 and you're just getting worked over in Algebra 2, you have to go back and master Algebra 1. These Beatitudes, they're progressive. If the first one falls, it should fall on the mourn, which should fall on the meek, which should fall on the hunger and thirst for righteousness. These are progressive.

If you have a problem with mercy like me, you have to go back to the one right before it and go, "God, there's obviously something I'm missing about hungering and thirsting for righteousness. I'm self-righteous. I'm living with this performance-based acceptance with other people." That's what it looked like for me. I had to get that one drilled down. When I got that drilled down, the next domino fell over, which was mercy for me.

Here's one thing. There's one exception. I'm taking persecution off the table, because all of you are going to be like, "Oh, honey. You're so great. You need more persecution in your life." That one is gone. That can't be your scapegoat today, "You need more persecution in life." It's probably true, but that one is off the table. You have the other Beatitudes to go and ask that question to. Go become a master in Algebra 1. Let me pray.

Father, thank you for your goodness, that we can stand up here and we can sing that this really has nothing to do with us and that we bring nothing to the table. It's all Jesus. Father, help us. We need your power to change. In order for Jesus to be our CO, we need your power to change us, because we know Jesus wants to lead us to life and a place where there is fullness and satisfaction. Father, help us be a people who look like these Beatitudes. In Jesus' name, amen.