Summary: The Beatitudes are meant for all Christians. Jesus expects us to manifest all of them. They are not learnt traits, but the fruit brought forth by the grace of God in our lives.
[I’ve taken most of the thoughts in this sermon from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.]
Read the Beatitudes, and there you have a description of what every Christian is meant to be.
• It is not merely the description of some exceptional Christians.
• Jesus does not say here that certain outstanding characters are going to be rewarded.
• It is a picture of every believer in Christ.
Jesus says that this is the only kind of person who is truly ‘blessed’, or ‘happy’.
• Someone suggested that it can be put like this: “This is the sort of man who is to be congratulated; this is the sort of man to be envied, for he alone is truly happy.”
• Happiness or blessing is the great question confronting mankind.
• The whole world is longing for happiness. But sadly, we see it repeated over and over again, many ended up in more misery than when they started off.
Jesus gives us the principles to finding fulfilment and happiness in this world.
• If you really want to be happy, then here is the way.
• So we are going to take at Jesus’ prescription in this passage over the next few weeks.
The first thing we need to know is that…
(1) All Christians are to be like this.
This is not for a selected few, for some exceptional Christians.
• Jesus meant it for all. It is a description of what every one of us can be, or meant to be.
• You can be blessed, whether you are a full-time Christian pastor or just an ordinary believer.
• Man tends to have such a distinction, between the full-time, religious (clergy) ones and the ‘ordinary’ Christians.
• And because they are full-time, or doing more of God’s work, they are ‘better’ blessed; or they enjoy a certain degree of blessing others do not have.
From the Scriptures, there is no such distinction.
• We are all called to be saints, and to be blessed in this way.
• These Beatitudes are a description of a character, not an office or a talent.
• The Bible talks about the different offices – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – to help the church.
• The Bible also talks about spiritual gifts – so that members can build up the church.
• But this has nothing to do with blessings. God blesses a character, not an office or a particular gifting.
We are all called to exemplify everything that is contained here in the Beatitudes.
(2) Jesus expects us to manifest ALL of these characteristics.
It’s not a ‘pick one and be like that’ and you will be blessed.
• Apparently this is a composite picture of what a Christian can be, and ought to be.
• It is not right to say some are meant to be ‘poor in spirit’, some are meant to ‘mourn’, and some are meant to be ‘peacemakers’, and so on.
It’s like the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Gal 5:22 – it is one fruit. You are able to manifest all nine aspects of the fruit.
• Although we may manifest one aspect more than the others, from time to time, we cannot split them up as if we can be contented to have ‘love’ and not ‘self-control’; to have ‘joy’ and not ‘kindness’.
• God expects us to “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13) – to be fully Christ-like.
• In order words, this is achievable! And we have to believe we can!
Similarly here in the Beatitudes, one aspect may be more prominent than the others but we need to grow in all of them.
• In fact, it seems that these qualities are interlinked - we cannot have one without the others.
• You cannot truly ‘mourn’ without ‘hungering and thirsting for righteousness’; and you cannot do that without being one who is ‘meek’ and a ‘peacemaker’.
So we can look at the Beatitudes as a complete whole, just like the fruit of the Spirit. Don’t divide them. Grow in all of them.
(3) None of these descriptions are what we may call a natural human tendency.
These aren’t moral pursuits. In fact, these qualities aren’t in worldly terms.
• The list here is not a reference to some personality traits, or some good temperaments that we can cultivate.
• This is not a ‘moral education’ class that Jesus is advocating, hoping to change some of us into good moral beings.
These are spiritual qualities. They are not learnt abilities.
• No man naturally conforms to the descriptions here given in the Beatitudes.
• Jesus is not describing for us some natural qualities, or temperaments, like some people being more ‘meek’ than others.