The Beatitudes (Blessedness) – The character of the Citizens of the Kingdom — Matthew 5: 1-12
"Learning leadership skills without developing godly character only makes a man a better rip-off artist." Howard HendricksLearningleadershipskillswithoutdevelopinggodlycharacteronlymakesamanabetterrip-offartist. Howard Hendricks
"Each of us must fulfill a long apprenticeship as a servant before we are fit to rule with God." A.W. Tozer EachofusmustfulfillalongapprenticeshipasaservantbeforewearefittorulewithGod. A.W. Tozer
Jesus calls us to redefine "Reality" from what the world teaches us. He tells us to pursue gain and profit but in an entirely different way (and place — heaven) from what the world tells us — an entirely different value system, e.g., the Beatitudes. And although this requires a radical change in our thinking and actions, we would be foolish (as well as sinful) to not hear and by God’s grace, obey what He calls us to. So we must begin to seek praise from God more that the praise of man (John 5:44), seek the pleasures of God versus the pleasures of the world (Psalm 16:11), and seek the power of God (spiritual power/influence which comes through submission to Him) versus power among men (Philippians 2:5-11).
This “blessedness’ is a state of being, our relationship with God, more than just a feeling. But as we grasp our blessed state over time for living God’s way we experience joy and hope as a by-product of our obedience.
The world’s values
"Blessed are the poor in spirit" – both economic poverty and/or oppression and disillusionment can bring us to a place of poverty of spirit where we know we have nothing before God except “need’ — spiritual bankruptcy. This includes those who know they can produce no spiritual good apart from God working through them. "For theirs is the kingdom of heaven" — (See Isaiah 57:15) Spiritual blessings/resources flow downhill to the lowly and contrite not uphill to the proud and haughty. This went against the prevailing worldview of Old Testament saints who, like Job’s counselors, believed that God’s blessings only went to the "righteous" (which could often be "self-righteous" ones) and the poor and those in trials were getting their due for "sin"..
"Blessed are those who mourn" — loss or lack produces sadness and in this case the loss and lack is true inner righteousness (not external self-righteousness as seen in the Pharisees) and thus we mourn over our sins and the sins of those around us. For sin, which grieves God’s heart, now grieves our hearts. Psalm 119:136 "Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed." "For they will be comforted" — Comforted first of all by the good news of the gospel "your sins are forgiven." (See Isaiah 61:1-3) And comforted in our trials by the REAL presence and comfort of our Lord. And the present hope of the future and ultimate comfort when we will be face to face with God Who will "wipe away every tear and promises us "no more sorrow, no more crying, no more pain" (Revelation 21:3-5). Having been comforted by the Lord we "weep with those who weep" and comfort them with the comfort of the Lord. (Romans 12:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
"Blessed are the meek" – When we are meek before the Lord it is much easier to humble ourselves before others. Ephesians 5:21 "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Like Jesus who always submitted to His Father and described Himself as "meek and lowly in heart" we bow before the Lord and humbly serve others. Yet meekness does not mean weakness or never confronting those who are wrong. Jesus was very confrontive with the Pharisees and even His own disciples for their self-centeredness. "For they will inherit the earth" — Scriptures tells us that it is not the proud and powerful who have an inner peace and contentment here on earth but that "godliness with contenment is great gain" (1 Timothy 6:6). And the godly ones are not "easily provoked or angered" (1 Corinthians 13:5) when they are looked over or slighted. Finally, Jesus tells us that the first shall be last and the last shall be first and that when He comes to reign on earth (the Millennial kingdom) that the meek will rule with Him. (Luke 13:29-30 – See Tozer’s quote above)
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" — both hunger and thirst are not only intense needs they are constant, recurring needs. This desire that is created by our poverty of spirit and grief over our sin causes us to passionately and regularly seek after God’s righteousness. In addition to hungering for personal righteousness we want to see God’s righteousness and justice for others in this life and ultimately a longing for the restoration of all things. (Romans 8:18-25; Habakkuk 2:14) "For they will be filled (satisfied)" — not with self-righteousness but with "the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" (Philippians 3:9) This alone satisfies our thirsty souls and the taste is so great we must have more.
These first four beatitudes are primarily related to our relationship with the Lord and the next four are primarily related to our relationship with others — merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted because of righteousness. We will study these next week.