Jesus taught in many places, but His most well-known speech has been titled the Sermon on the Mount. In this teaching, what is known as the Beatitudes is revealed:
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."
Matthew 5:3-10 NLT
As I read back through the beatitudes this week, I gained a different perspective. In the past, when I have meditated on each verse, I have thought of Jesus speaking about different groups of people --those who are humble, those who hunger and thirst, or those who work for peace. Each group, of course, represents a particular spiritual aspect that is found in the followers of Christ, and each comes with its own heavenly reward.
However, I realize that my thinking was narrow-minded. I was busy trying to figure out if I indeed fit into one of these 'groups' versus seeing the big picture. Jesus doesn't expect us to have only one of these behaviors, but all of them! How's that for overwhelming and intimidating? Well, let's step back, take a deep breath, and see the entire portrait Jesus paints.
As we grow in Christ, we change. When we actively pursue our Lord and Savior, our attitudes and then our behaviors begin to be more Christ-like in nature. He is the perfect example of the beatitudes all rolled up into one!
Sound hard? It doesn't have to be. If we are striving to become fully engaged with God, the Holy Spirit will be able to work these things out in us. At times, one particular aspect may need more work than others and occasionally; we may need a refresher on some, but the goal should always be to reflect as much of Jesus as possible.
The second thing I noticed when reviewing these Scriptures is the extent Jesus went to in describing how believers are persecuted. Verse 10 ends with the reward those persecuted for doing right will receive, but verse 11 reveals some specific details:
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers." Matthew 5:11 NLT
Although many of us in this country have not experienced the brutal persecution that Christians around the world have faced, I believe this verse is for all Christians. It hits home for us. Verbal and mental abuses are the first lines of attack against those of faith, and I believe Jesus wanted to emphasize that the Father sees all --whether the abuse leaves a physical mark or not.
Then in verse 12, it is as if Jesus is giving us a way to know we are on the right track when persecution befalls us:
Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way. Matthew 5:12 NLT
I love how He finishes this statement by mentioning the 'ancient prophets' to remind us we are not in this alone, but there are those who have gone before us to make it possible for us to stand in this moment.
This week, look at the beatitudes as a collective challenge. Change your perspective, and change your life!
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Written By: Elaine A. Lankford
Elaine is a long-standing member of Believers Church. There she serves the Lord as a small group leader, providing a way for others to study the Word of God in the comfort of her home. In addition, she is a part of the prayer team as well as the missions team, traveling yearly to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. She is the author of Love Echoed Back: I Cried Out, He Answered and is currently working on her second book, Christianity's Ticking Time Bomb: The Empowered Christian to be released in 2016. Elaine is a Virginia native and resides there with her husband, Darrell and her son, Nicholas. You can find her blog at www.elainelankford.com and you can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LoveEchoedBack