In Matthew five, Jesus begins his famous “sermon on the mount,” teachings about the kingdom of heaven. Jesus begins the sermons with the beatitudes and to make it short, the beatitudes are the attitudes that a believer in Christ ought to have. The way heaven operates is that the primary focus is not on promotion but character development and not just any character but the character that is the reflection of God’s. One of the pitfalls of a christian that is maturing and especially christian leaders, is that one gets promoted too quickly before they have the character to handle the position! A person who is promoted and given authority before they are ready is like a small paper cup trying to contain a waterfall worth of water; in the end the cup gets crushed and the water spills everywhere!
Therefore, the beatitudes are not a one time lesson that we just take in and move on but these are attitudes that we must hone everyday of our lives. We must sharpen and engrave the beatitudes deep down into our souls so that they are not just teachings we learned in a moment but become very much part of who we are.
So here are the eight attitudes that ought to be within the Christian that need constant refinement:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
To be poor is to have nothing at worst or at best very little to live off of. There were many periods in my life where I was considered “poor” relative to my friends and often times would bring the emotion of shame that would cause me to do whatever I can to hide the fact that I didn’t have much in comparison. To be poor in spirit however has nothing to do with what financial bracket you are in and if anything is one of the hardest things to have if you are materialistically wealthy! To be poor in spirit is actually a blessing and only shows the timeless truth that what heaven prizes is opposite to what the world does. To be poor in spirit is to be in a posture and understanding that one has no merit or standing of being right before God and therefore cannot by their own works enter into the Kingdom of heaven. To actually enter in the Kingdom and receive, you have to actually admit you have nothing and can do nothing to enter in. You pay money to get into other places but in heaven, you have to admit you can’t pay and that opens you up to receive the grace of God through Jesus Christ to enter! This is all to say that the opposite of poor in spirit is pride and the prideful will never be able to claim the kingdom of heaven if they choose to keep relying on themselves. Those who adopt a posture of humility are the ones that will receive the kingdom of heaven for they will receive the grace of heaven in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted
To mourn or grieve requires something to mourn over. The reason why mourning is an attribute on this side of the second coming of Christ is because we mourn at that fact that the way things are now are not the way things ought to be. We live in a “breaking news” culture where disaster and tragedy have taken root in our societies and with every incident, we are becoming more used to the current state of things. What is tragic is not that tragedy is occurring but the fact that they are occuring in such a frequent state that we are becoming numb to it and accept it as normal. Those who mourn over the sad state of the world because they know that this is not how things should be will be comforted by God because God is moving all creation towards a future where there will be no more tears, disease, sickness, and death. As followers of God that have heaven now, we mourn now as we puruse the kingdom but know that we will be comforted along the way as we walk into joy in fellowship with the redeemer.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
They say meek is power under control. Meek is more than being passive but choosing to restrain oneself and is similar to self-control. To be a self-controlled person is actually a powerful person. This is something that I am trying to practice more these days as I realize that I need to work on my patience and meekness. Trust me, it's hard being meek because there is a fear that if you are meek, than you will just become a doormat to everyone around you. Jesus Christ was a meek person but was by no means a doormat or powerless, if anything, He was always the most powerful in every situation! Meekness was the true character of the Messiah as during that time in the world, there came a lot of false messiahs that promised deliverance from Roman oppression through military might or terrorism but Jesus disarmed the powers of the world and satan through not shedding the blood of his foes but by the shedding of his own blood! In the world, meek people will inherit nothing but in the kingdom, the meek will inherit everything like Jesus Christ because they realize that it is not them who has to make heaven come down but that they just host the Spirit of God around them to let God establish heaven and be their defender. I want to interject here and say that when there is gross injustice or violence against yourself or another human being that we don’t do anything about it and pass that off as being peaceful like Jesus. God is the God of justice and therefore we must pursue what is the most just thing to do at the time so when we see bullying, we must come against that rather than accept it. But if you were out in the world and someone was calling you to renounce your faith or die, it is in these moments that we die for our faith rather than reject Christ but in everyday life we are allowed to defend ourselves if there is no other option. Some will disagree but I just want to say that if you have bad intentions against me, don’t catch me in an alleyway… just saying.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied
When we thirst and hunger for things, it usually creates a bigger hunger and thirst so that we need more than we did before. We usually get bored of things because they don’t offer the same level of satisfaction as we move on. We get more addicted to things because the previous highs are not enough so we dive deeper until we find ourselves in a pit of darkness. To hunger and thirst in anything that can’t provide for eternity is a fruitless and futile mission. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we are going to be satisfied because God is the supplier and what He gives is not only good but everlasting. There is a satisfaction that happens when we hunger and thirst for righteousness because God fulfills it to the max through his righteousness and judgement so therefore our life pursuit to hunger after is not riches of this world but to see God fully establish His righteousness on earth. We pursue to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread around the earth and that Heaven’s ways start being the norm in our lives and societies. To hunger for God’s ways to be established on earth is hard but it will be satisfying in the end for God will do it!
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy
Mercy is one of the traits of God that is on display since the beginning. If anything, God is angered when someone who is shown mercy is not merciful in return to those around them because it is so against the God’s character. When we exercise this trait of mercy, it not only shows that we acknowledge that we have received mercy as well but that we are reflecting the fruit of that mercy from God when we extend it, which only opens us up for more of it. Think of a cycle of mercy that is started by God and continuously sustained in your life by your active participation. To show mercy is a lot like grace in that it is given as a gift that often times the other person has not deserved and often times when given that way is the beginning of transformation in that person’s life. Therefore, we have the privilege of helping start a cycle of mercy in the lives of those we touch!
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God
To be pure is to be whole. If we say that something like gold is completely pure, than we are saying that there are no traces of impurities or other substances within the gold. A pure heart in the kingdom of heaven is an undivided heart of devotion to God. You will see God because your heart is fully devoted to him and to see is more than physical vision but to see like Him, think like Him, act like Him, and ultimately be like Him. A devotion that is pure has no room in it’s vision for anything else and is thus keeping God in the center focus of your view on life.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
To be a son is to be like the father. To be called the sons of God, one will mimic and reflect God the Father and one of those traits is peace. A question that we have to ask ourselves is whether we are creating an atmosphere of peace around us? Peace doesn’t mean that we ignore the issues so that everyone is comfortable but to seek genuine peace sometimes requires people to face the uncomfortable truth. We settle for false forms of peace and think its ok because everyone is comfortable and no one is being challenged! To truly have peace, we must be willing to address and uproot the sins and issues of our lives that try desperately to remain hidden. Like a disease within the body that cannot be seen with the eye until you exam more closely and deeply, we too must uproot sin that remains hidden in our lives so that we can have genuine peace. Peacemakers are ones that are willing to seek reconciliation and unity by going after the things that threaten peace in the first place!
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
This last beatitude serves as a closing statement in the attitudes that involve those who will inherit the kingdom of heaven. When you live for heaven, those that are not for heaven or God will ultimately become hostile towards you. It is in these moments that as a believer your devotion will be tested because you and I will be tempted to abandon the faith to join the crowd but like the disciples, can we cling unto the master? Peter later claims that they gave up everything to be with Jesus but Jesus rebukes him with the truth in that what they lost in following Jesus is so insignificantly small compared to what they actually gain in Him! Yes it feels bad to be persecuted. Yes you will be tempted to fall away because of persecution but in the midst of it, remind yourself that if you are being persecuted for your genuine faith and not because you’re just a jerk, then you know you are getting something right when following God for the world does not accept Him!
The beatitudes are something that I have heard millions of times growing up in the church but I am reminded today as a thirty-two year old that these attitudes are not just rules to be followed but reveal to us the DNA of a Christian that lives in heaven.
May these be the attitudes that ought to be in your life!