Next Sunday we begin studying what has been called, “the spiritual charter of the kingdom,” – the Beatitudes. These first 12 verses of Matthew chapter five, which contain eight successive declarations of blessing, form the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount. The blessing that Jesus pronounces follows after the pattern of the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (eg. Ps 1:1, 84:4-5). The “blessedness” of which He speaks is a prevailing joy or “holy happiness,” gained from the described condition. It is clear from Jesus’ words that this happiness does not come as a result of material blessing or status or power, but this “blessed condition” is spoken of those who are meek and humble.
It is important that we realize that the Beatitudes describe all Christians – not what we do as much as what we are. Jesus is not describing the character of a specific “clergy class” or “super disciple,” but of every Christ follower. All Christians are meant to manifest all of these qualities. Not only are we meant to be like this, but we actually manifest the qualities in increasing increments of glory. This is the glory of the Gospel – Christ takes a poor miserable sinner, blinded to his condition, living in pride and arrogance, and makes him into one who is humble and poor in spirit. Of course it is not until we are glorified that we will manifest all of the Beatitudes perfectly; however, we cannot relegate this blessed state merely to the future, for it describes us who are kingdom citizens living as aliens in this world today.
These eight characteristics, which begin with “poor in spirit,” are the essential difference between the Christian and the non-Christian. The line between Christian and non-Christian becomes blurred and the church looks like the world when we are not clearly manifesting these eight characteristics. The world believes in self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-exaltation; to the world “pride,” is considered a virtue and they enjoy a hint of boastfulness. But it is the very opposite virtues that are celebrated in the Beatitudes. As followers of Christ who desire to reflect the nature of Christ to the world, our chief concern ought to be displaying these very “other-worldly” characteristics. Be different. Look different. Live out what you possess within. May our study in these Beatitudes be an exhortation to our church to be what we have been recreated in Christ to be; to live as we ought to live; to be like Christ, in utter contrast to everyone who does not belong to Christ.
This week in your family worship, consider the first two Beatitudes (Matt 5:3-4). Consider why this text might prompt Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones to write: “I would say that there is no more perfect statement of the doctrine of justification by faith only than this Beatitude.”