God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Matthew 5:3-12 NLT
Of all the writings about Jesus in the Bible, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, chapters 5-7, is the first, the longest, and the most prominent. Up until this point, the disciple Matthew’s writings are mostly an introduction of Jesus. However, not only does this body of principles hold a place of prominence in the New Testament, this sermon is about to directly confront the reader (that would be us!).
Jesus starts with a section called the Beatitudes that list a series of blessings with a Proverb-like proclamation. Although Jesus does not include narrative for each of these blessings they are precise and full of meaning. Simply put, Jesus is describing the traits He was (and still is!) looking for in his followers. If our goal is to be more like Jesus (and it should be!) these beatitudes will challenge how we live every day.
Unfortunately, as we read through each blessing, we get a sense that they directly contradict how our society tells us we are to behave, wouldn’t you agree? Jesus even points out in the last blessing that our efforts to develop these characteristics will result in opposition and persecution from our peers.
Let’s look at what Jesus says versus what the world says:
- Instead of being poor in spirit, our world encourages us to be prideful and have personal independence.
- Instead of mourning, our world encourages us to attain happiness at any cost.
- Instead of being meek, we are encouraged to ladder climb or seek power.
- Instead of seeking righteousness*, we pursue personal desires.
- Instead of showing mercy, we exhibit strength without feeling.
- Instead of being pure in heart, deception and immoral practices are acceptable.
- Instead of being a peacemaker, we seek personal peace without concern for the world’s chaos.
- Instead of standing firm even in the face of persecution, we avoid it by having weak commitments and standards.
(*Definition of righteousness-acting in accord with divine or moral law.)
I don’t know about you, but these truths hit home in my heart and I am faced with my weaknesses and failure to mirror Jesus in several areas!
Jesus ends this section by telling us we will be rewarded in heaven if we live our lives according to His blessings. Notice He doesn’t refer to them as hardships, but as blessings, and that is how we need to see them as well.
In the Kingdom of Heaven, wealth, power, and authority are unimportant. Kingdom people are to seek different blessings, benefits, and attitudes.
Today let’s ask ourselves a very hard and revealing question: which attitude are we reflecting? Are we reflecting the selfishness of world, or the humility of Jesus?
(See section titled “Extra” that list verses from my NIV study Bible about how we are to develop the attitudes Jesus lists as blessings.)
Lord this is a very convicting lesson and I confess to You I must make changes in my life right now. I ask for a hedge of protection to surround me as I face some very fast paced months with multiple commitments, coupled with some difficult personal challenges. During these times of weakness may I remember Your power and glory are mightier than the devil who seeks to destroy me in my weakness. I ask this in the name of my savior Jesus. Amen.
Poor in spirit-James 4:7-10
Mourning-Psalm 51, James 4:7-10
Righteousness-John 16:5-11, Philippians 3:7-11
Pure in heart-1 John 3:1-3
Peacemaker-Romans 12:9-21, Hebrews 12:10-11
Persecuted-2 Timothy 3:12
**Two options for reading the Bible online include Blue Letter Bible and YouVersion.