The Beatitudes-A Spiritual Checklist for Christians
The Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount are some of the most read verses in the Bible, and yet they are also some of the most misunderstood as well. Many approach the beatitudes in a cafeteria style way where they pick one or two of the attributes that Jesus mentioned. The idea is that someone may excel in one area Jesus mentioned and be satisfied they are a follower of Christ. The beatitudes are actually a recipe, or check list, for what the whole Christian personality should be. When we strive to develop the attributes that Jesus describes, we will develop into the type of follower he desires to be the occupants of His kingdom.
The beatitudes present us with a dividing line between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God. Those who choose to pursue the characteristics Jesus has stated will be subjects in the kingdom of God, while those who refuse, will remain part of the kingdom of this world, which is ruled by Satan. It is interesting to note that most self-help books and programs which deal with secular and worldly success tend for the most part to center on one’s self. Jesus tells us in the beatitudes that spiritual success comes from denying oneself, caring for others, and seeking after God first in our lives. He begins each beatitude by saying the one who practices each characteristic is “blessed”. To be blessed means to have peace from God and be spiritually successful. Let’s examine each of the characteristics individually, and see how we each conform to the Lord’s spiritual checklist.
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Those who are poor in spirit are in the right condition to enter the kingdom because they see how urgently they need God in their lives to save them from sin and themselves. They realize they are lost in sin (Rom. 3:23, Eph. 2:12), and need Jesus for their salvation. “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
2. Blessed are those who mourn. Does this mean that God desires sad people in His kingdom? No, it means God desires followers who see the lost state of those who are around them and are touched by their condition. He desires those who will see people in need and be compassionate toward them.
3. Blessed are the meek. There is no room for pride and arrogance in the kingdom of God. This requires us to remember where we belong in the grand scheme of things. We would be lost without God, and He is the One who is in control.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. This one would definitely not be popular by the world’s standards. When we understand the holy, pure, and just nature of God, it will lead us to pursue being like Him with all our being. Refer to 1 Peter 1:13-16.
5. Blessed are the merciful. God is all loving and merciful. We would be lost without His great mercy, therefore Christians should understand the need to be merciful better than anyone. God will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive others (Matt. 6:14,15).
6. Blessed are the pure in heart. Having a pure heart means being greatly concerned with always doing what is right. A pure heart comes from a heart full of God’s Word.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers. Christians are to be a peaceful people, but Jesus says we need to be more than that. We need to be peacemakers. That means trying to expand the peace in our own lives so that it effects others as well. We can do this by living an example of peace that others will be influenced by. The ability to forgive and overcome the “grudge” begins with developing the heart of a peacemaker.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake. This is the attribute that shows the rest of the world, and God, that we intend to live according to all these characteristics. Jesus tells us that we will be persecuted for following after him. It is when we can live by these beatitudes under persecution, that we show our deep love for God. -Ed