Be the Beatitudes: 8 Revolutionary Blessings That Will Change Your Life
In Matthew 5, Jesus lists eight remarkable statements that are known as the Beatitudes. They are just as relevant today as they were 2,000 years ago, and here’s how practicing them can revolutionize your life.
What are the Beatitudes?
The Beatitudes are specific blessings that Jesus detailed during a larger collection of teachings known as the Sermon on the Mount. As followers of Christ, these statements provide a guide for how we are to live for God. There are eight Beatitudes in total and each one is powerful and life changing. So, let’s look at each one and how putting them into practice can revolutionize your life!
Beatitude #1: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In this Beatitude, Jesus speaks about those who are “poor in spirit.” At face value, this might seem like a strange characteristic to highlight. What does it mean, anyway? There are a few interpretations, but humility may be the most accurate comparison. Contrast this to those who were proud in spirit, such as the Pharisees, who Jesus often rebuked. Being humble, or “poor in spirit,” allows us to honor God and understand our place in his kingdom. And Jesus tells us the kingdom of heaven belongs to the poor in spirit.
How can I be poor in spirit?
Having a humble heart can be difficult, as the sin of pride is an easy trap to fall into. However, an effective way to develop and maintain humility is by devoting time to reading the Bible and modeling your life after the example of Jesus. Paul describes Christ’s example of humility beautifully in Philippians 2:1-11. Think about God, think of others. Look out for those around you. As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Beatitude #2: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
The mourning that Jesus mentions here is likely the process of mourning over our sin or sinful nature. Paul describes this type of mourning as “godly grief” in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. What grief is considered godly? The kind that leads us to repentance and God’s abundant forgiveness. Mourn over your sin and receive God’s comfort that is described in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (ESV).
How can I mourn over my sins?
Pray and ask God to convict you of your sins. If you are earnestly seeking to repent, the Holy Spirit will prompt you to change certain habits that are not honoring to God. We all have things that we can ask forgiveness for and improve on. Although this process of mourning is a sad one as we come to realize how our sins hurt God, don’t fall into despair! Ultimately, God wants us to recognize our sins so we can seek repentance and build a stronger relationship with him.
Beatitude #3: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The definition of meekness is “[being] quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.” Some people may consider being meek as weakness, but as Jesus tells us, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The meek, he says, shall inherit the earth! Being meek is a combination of humility, patience, and obedience to God. Being submissive to God’s will often isn’t easy, but it’s for our own good. We can trust God and his words in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (ESV). The meek find joy in submitting their lives to God.
How can I be meek?
Practice submission. You may be the type of personality who likes to take charge. That’s great! But don’t force yourself to be the leader every time. Exercise humility and patience by choosing to put yourself under the leadership of others. If you are the type of person who doesn’t like to lead, that’s great, too. But that doesn’t make us meek on its own. Examine your heart and make sure that when you submit to others, you’re exercising humility and patience in your obedience as well. After all, we’re under the leadership of Jesus Christ, and we’re called to obey him. It’s a skill we all must learn!
Beatitude #4: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
We do not live in a righteous world – far from it. But, as Jesus describes in the fourth Beatitude, we are still to seek out righteousness. We are challenged to be morally responsible and seek out justice for those around us. Isaiah 33:15-17 speaks about a righteous person and how they should live. The righteous person knows that, even in a world that is unjust, there is hope. At the end of this world, God will usher in a new heaven and earth where the desire for righteousness will forever be satisfied.
How can I seek righteousness?
Take the time to look around you – in your home, church, and community. What injustices do you find, whether caused by yourself or others? Ask God to give you his eyes to see and the strength to help those around you. Remember, righteousness doesn’t always involve great acts – it often begins with the little things in our lives that are easy to ignore. Above all, cling to faith in Jesus. Keep Romans 1:17 in mind: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (ESV).
Beatitude #5: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
The next Beatitude that Jesus talks about is to be merciful. We are called to follow the example that God has set for us – to show mercy to those around us. If we are merciful, the Bible tells us, we shall receive mercy from God. How important it is to be merciful! Recall the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant from the Gospel of Matthew: Jesus paints a picture of a servant who has been forgiven a great debt by his master, but then turns around and refuses to show mercy to someone who owed him a much smaller payment. So, remember God’s mercy to you and extend it to others!
How can I be merciful?
First, try to cultivate a merciful perspective. Think of all the ways God has shown mercy and forgiveness to you. Not the least of which was Jesus dying on the cross for your sins. If Jesus could show you (and me and the whole world) mercy to the point of death, how can we refuse to be merciful to others in much smaller matters? Meditate on the Scriptures and learn how to forgive others. Speaking of which, we wrote an article recently on how to forgive others! Use it as a guide to help you forgive those who wrong you and over time you will find yourself becoming more merciful!
Beatitude #6: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Next, Jesus talks about the blessing for the pure in heart. But what exactly does pure in heart mean? In 1 Peter 1:13-25, Peter talks about “loving one another earnestly from a pure heart.” So, a sincere, selfless love for God and for others. This is brought about by an “obedience to the truth,” the truth that he details earlier in the passage – that we were redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and that God has raised him from the dead and glorified him so that he is our salvation.
How can I be pure in heart?
It’s important to know that we can’t live out these Beatitudes by our own strength. It is Christ in us that gives us the power to live in a way that pleases God. Even knowing the hope of Christ, our hearts are not always pure and we still sin. That’s why it’s important to seek God’s forgiveness when we stumble. For an example of this, look no further than Psalm 51:10. When David sinned, he lifted this prayer to God: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (ESV).
Beatitude #7: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Followers of Christ are called to be peacemakers. Not only that, but Jesus tells us in this Beatitude that by our pursuit of peace we will be called children of God. James 3:17-18 tells us, “…a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Seeking peace with others, especially those who we would consider our enemies, is not an easy task. But we are called to emulate Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and become peacemakers in our communities.
How can I be a peacemaker?
By living in peace with those around you. Easier said than done, sure, but that is still what we are told to strive for. In Romans 12:18, Paul instructs us that “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” At times, peace may elude us, but it shouldn’t be because we didn’t offer it. Additionally, being a peacemaker isn’t limited to a lack of external conflict. We should also strive for the spiritual peace, the “peace of Christ,” that is mentioned in Colossians 3:15 – the shalom that only comes from God.
Beatitude #8: Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The final Beatitude that Jesus lists really ties everything together. If we are seeking after God, striving to be poor in spirit, pure in heart, merciful, meek, mourning over sin, and seeking righteousness and peace, we will be persecuted. The Christian way of life is antithetical with the way of the world, and we can expect resistance. But being persecuted for righteousness’ sake is a good thing, as unpleasant as that might sound. Peter gives us great encouragement 1 Peter 3:14-17, and concludes the passage with this statement: “…it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil” (ESV).
What if I am persecuted for righteousness’ sake?
According to Jesus, you are blessed! And if we are persecuted, we should not be surprised. Jesus also said, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” So, how can we prepare ourselves for this persecution, whatever form it may take? By living out the other Beatitudes in obedience to God and asking him to give us the strength to shine our light for Christ, wherever we may be. And finally, remembering the words of Jesus from John 16:33: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (ESV).
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