The Beatitudes, according to Matthew, mark the beginning of Jesus’ public teaching ministry. They are the first things that Jesus emphasized as he proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom. Unlike Moses at Mount Sinai, Jesus began his Sermon on the Mount, not with commandments, but with promises of God’s blessing on heart attitudes. He began focusing on the heart, doing heart surgery, wanting to reconstruct our hearts and bring our hearts in tune with his. The Beatitudes describe the foundational character qualities and family characteristics Jesus wanted to be at work in his people.
Sadly, it often seems that Christians today easily forget the foundational importance of the Beatitudes. Going by the evidence of public interactions between “Christians” on social media, blogs, public debates, publications, it’s hard sometimes to see active evidence of the Beatitudes. But since these are the foundational teachings of our Savior, they are the heart attitudes that should govern, guide, and be evident in all our interactions. Christians then need to be regularly giving themselves to meditation and application of the Beatitudes as the foundation for Christian living.
Foundations for the Christian Life
Consider the following:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit”
– the foundation for a relationship with God
– losing hope in yourself and finding your only hope in God.
“Blessed are those who mourn”
– the foundation for repentance
– seeing the true grievousness of sin.
“Blessed are the meek”
– the foundation for faith
– quieting your soul to trust God in all circumstances.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”
– the foundation for Christian living and sanctification
– the pursuit of holiness in your life and in the world.
“Blessed are the merciful”
– the foundation for Christian relationships
– loving others as God has loved us.
“Blessed are the pure in heart”
– the foundation for Christian worship
– having a vision of God ‘win out’ over all other things.
“Blessed are the peacemakers”
– the foundation for Christian mission
– seeking to bring God’s offer of peace to a hostile world.
“Blessed are the persecuted”
– the foundation for Christian perseverance
– knowing and following our Savior through many tribulations for the joy set before us.
A Guide to Prayer
The Beatitudes become a great guide to prayer – for ourselves, our children, our fellow church members, our neighbors. If you have children, you are probably aware of one of your children who needs to come to a poverty of spirit, or to a mourning over sin, or to a meekness of faith. You may know a husband and wife struggling in their marriage who need to grow in mercy and compassion towards one another, who need to apply the Gospel of peace in their home (James 4:13-18; 2 Tim.2:24-26; 2 Cor.13:11). You may know someone struggling in sin who has become defeated and complacent, who needs his hunger and thirst for righteousness aroused and who needs his heart purified in Spirit-filled worship to God again (James 4:7-10; Psalm 73:1-2, 25-28; 1 John 3:2-3; Deut.30:6). You may know someone being persecuted for their faith – in their workplace, by their family, on the mission field – who need prayer to be able to rejoice and grow in the steadfastness of hope (1 Pet.2:19-21, 4:1-14; Rom.5:3-4; James 1:2).