Summary: Introduction to the Beatitudes. (Part 2)
We saw in Introduction to the Beatitudes -Part 1 the connection of the Beatitudes and the values of the Kingdom. Now we shall se the connection between the Beatitudes and the Fruit of the Spirit.
The gospel of Matthew gives us 9 Beatitudes. Each one is introduced by the word ‘blessed’, followed by the reason for such blessedness. Let’s review them.
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
9. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you … for great is your reward in heaven.
Some people consider the 9th Beatitude as part of the 8th one. For the purpose of our study, I will view it as a separate Beatitude. So we have these 9 Beatitudes. We shall see if these beatitudes have any connection to the Fruit of the Spirit.
First of all we will focus on the writings of Paul. As we study the Scriptures we realise that much of what Paul wrote in his letters is an exposition and an application of the words of the Lord Jesus. The meaning of Jesus’ words is often well explained in the teaching of Paul.
We can ask ourselves this question, ‘Did Paul touch on the Beatitudes in his writings?’ What can that be? And we have the answer: It is the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, we find a list of 9 qualities which, together, are called the fruit of the Spirit. To my knowledge, there is nothing else in Paul’s writings, except for the fruit of the Spirit, that has this ninefold application. The 9 Beatitudes; the 9 qualities of the fruit of the Spirit. Is this a coincidence?
When you put the 9 Beatitudes and the 9 elements that constitute the fruit of the Spirit side by side, there doesn’t seem to be any correspondence. One starts with the statement, Blessed are the poor in spirit, and the other has The fruit of the Spirit is love.
Let’s not be too quick to come to a conclusion here. Remember that Paul is a commentator. He doesn’t simply repeat the Beatitudes. He will describe the content of these Beatitudes.
We shall digress a little.. In Galatians 5, the apostle Paul speaks of the works of the flesh. He writes in Galatians 5:19, Now the works of the flesh are evident. What are they? Here is the list: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealous-ies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like. And Paul goes on to say, Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5: 19- 21).
Let’s look at another list found in Mark 7:21-22. This is what Jesus says, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. "
So we see that the works of the flesh is the overflow of the evil that is within the heart. And the works of the Spirit is the overflow of the working of the Spirit within us.
Understanding The Works Of The Flesh
In Galatians 5:13 we find that we are not called to be under bondage by trying to perform according to the law but we are called to liberty and we are to stand fast in that liberty. However Paul goes on to say not to use this liberty as an opportunity to walk in the works of the flesh.
This indicates that we have a choice to make concerning how we are going to walk. We have the choice of walking in the works of the flesh or walking in the leading of the Holy Spirit.
He wants us to walk according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Notice it says that the results are very clear.
One list is an example of what happens when you choose to follow after the works of the flesh. It is not a comprehensive list. It is a list of examples of what to look for to see what you are following. The other list is what we have when we allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide our way of life.