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Beatitudes: Attitudes to Be . . . So We Can Be in the Kingdom

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Beatitudes: Attitudes to Be . . . So We Can Be in the Kingdom

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The Sermon on the Mount by Jesus in Matthew (chapters 5-7) and the “Blessed are’s” in 5:3-10 that introduce it have been lauded as “Christianity 101.”

Having announced that all need to repent because the Kingdom is “at hand” (Matthew 4:17), the King declared to His disciples the core principles of that Kingdom. Of note is that the first and last beatitudes promise that Kingdom as the reward, and the inheritance for meekness specifies where that Kingdom will be located.

The word “beatitude,” from the Latin word beatus, means “blessed” or “utmost happiness.” We typically think “Yes, bless me with a new car, home, job, health! That’ll make me deliriously happy!” But the beatitudes are spiritual blessings that describe the ideal Christian nature, heart, mind and character and the rewards that come with living this way. While the beatitudes embody a “simplicity of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3), they offer a depth that requires the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to understand, live and explain them.

Let’s look at each of these beatitudes: We need all of these Christ-like attitudes to be in the family and Kingdom of God. 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“‘Poor in spirit’? What? I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit—all nine fruits!” Jesus doesn’t mean “don’t have much of the Holy Spirit.” And this beatitude has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with our absolute spiritual bankruptcy without God. We must realize our absolute need for God and for a Savior. Paul pulls no punches in describing how our calling is a humble one (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)—“that no flesh should glory in [God’s] presence” (verse 29). But we shouldn’t stay foolish, weak and base. Our value comes from God living in us!

In Isaiah 66:2 God specifies “on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Yes, prompt obedience to the Bible with godly sorrow for improper attitudes and behavior!

In 1 Peter 5:6 we’re instructed, “Be clothed with humility . . . humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time” (emphasis mine throughout). Most of us like to dress ourselves! My daily prayer is “God, help me to humble myself so you don’t have to!”

We who want to be kings in the Kingdom of God must remain like the first king of Israel, Saul, started out: “little in your own eyes” (1 Samuel 15:17). Agape love described in 1 Corinthians 13:4 does not “parade itself” and is not “puffed up.”

The reward for the poor in spirit is the Kingdom of heaven. Matthew 6:33 says to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” The placement of this reward as the first one mentioned in the beatitudes is fitting! We will see later that two beatitudes are related to seeking righteousness.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Who wants to mourn? How could that be a blessing? Ezekiel 9:4-6 warns, “Put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done . . . do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary” (see also 1 Peter 4:17). There’s plenty to mourn because we live in a corrupt world! A witty meme says, “My desire to be well informed is at odds with my desire to be sane.” 

The beatitudes build upon themselves. Read James 4:9-10 and 1 Corinthians 5:2 to see a link between need to mourn and being poor in spirit.

Jesus is not talking about living under a cloud with a perpetual morbid view of life. Or trudging gloomily along like the fictional character Eeyore. Christ wants us to be sensitive and alert to the needs of others.

The reward for those who mourn is comfort. God sent the Comforter (Holy Spirit). God will comfort us so we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:4). June Hale, a Denver elder’s wife whose husband David had recently died, shared on Facebook, “We can’t fully love if we haven’t mourned.”

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Meek does not mean weak. Moses is rated as the meekest man living on earth at his time (Numbers 12:3, King James Version). Look at his exploits! He was a victorious Egyptian general and led three million complaining Israelites 40 years through the wilderness. Yet when challenged by Korah, Aaron and Miriam, he let God sort it out. More than once he courageously interceded with God when He was ready to wipe Israel out and start over with Moses.

There’s nothing weak about a prancing stallion! Yet they can learn to submit to their rider. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle” (Psalm 32:8-9).

The world-famous white Lipizzaner stallions of Vienna are so responsive to their long-time riders that it looks like they don’t have to even tug the reins. How much does God have to yank ours?

Meekness is a quiet power born in strength and involves emotions that are teachable, totally surrendered and responsive.

The reward for the meek is inheriting the earth. We should accept Jesus’ statement in John 3:13 that humans do not go to heaven when they die. How could Christ say it any plainer that the Kingdom of God will be on earth (and New Earth) than by stating this reward! Read Psalm 37 and see if you can find all five attitudes listed that are met with this same reward.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

This beatitude calls for a deep desire to grow spiritually and become like God who has holy, righteous character. A simple definition of righteousness focuses on the first five letters—being and doing what’s right as defined by God in His Bible.

The obvious and most effective way to seek this beatitude is to fast regularly and ask God to help us purge spiritual junk food. Consider Isaiah 55:2, which poses the question “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.”

The reward for this godly type of hunger and thirst is being filled. If we aren’t tasting of the good things of God (Hebrews 6:5) and filling up on righteousness, we’re probably full of ourselves!

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”

Micah 6:8 answers what God requires of us: justice, mercy and to walk humbly. Mercy is rated as one of the weightier matters of the law (Matthew 23:23) along with justice and faith. However, we read in James 2:13, mercy triumphs over justice.

God sets the example of empathy, pity and forgiveness that we must emulate. He is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:8-14).

The reward for being merciful is obtaining mercy. If we want compassion from God, we must first extend it to others (Matthew 6:14-15). “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you” (Lewis Smedes, Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve).

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

All beatitudes involve the heart. Pure in heart means genuine—and the word of the year, authentic. In the Bible, “sincere” means “without wax”—a substance that deceitfully disguises cracks in an urn for sale. As the Potter’s clay, we should consider if we are sincere in this way.

David wrote “Grant me purity of heart so that I might honor you” (Psalm 86:11, New Living Translation). James 1:27 defines “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

The reward for being pure in heart is seeing God. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3). And as resurrected Spirit Beings serving as teachers along with Jesus in the Millennium, when we suddenly appear to guide someone, they will see us! (Isaiah 30:20).

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

There’s plenty of opportunity to make peace because there’s not much around! We must be peacemakers, not just desirers. We must “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). 

It’s interesting that Paul links meditating on pure things (Philippians 4:8) with “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, [and] will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Before we can make any peace with others, we need to receive the spiritual gift of peace with God through the sacrifice of Christ.

The reward for being a peacemaker is being called a son or daughter of God. This is the purpose for life!

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus promised that if they persecuted Him, they will persecute us (John 15:20). As “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21), it’s important that we suffer for righteousness, and not because we got ourselves into a difficult situation through stupidity!

Matthew 5:11 adds the aspect of being charged “falsely.” Would claims of your wrongdoing, if made, be true or false? And conversely, there is something we would want to be accurately charged for: as the saying goes, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Acts 5 recounts the early days of the New Testament Church when the apostles were called before the Sanhedrin, threatened and beaten before being released. They “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (verse 41).

The reward for suffering persecution for righteousness sake brings us full-circle to the reward we began with—the Kingdom of God!

The beatitudes are the foundational attitudes required to have the heart, nature, mind, character and holy righteousness of God to be in the Kingdom of God (Colossians 3:12-15).

Let’s boldly ask God to help us develop the mindsets described in the beatitudes!

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