~Beatitudes, A New Perspective~
“3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven…”
Before when I’ve read these beatitudes, as they are commonly called, it always seemed as if Jesus was saying, “Here are a few types of people and why they will be blessed by the Father. Be like them.” As if it were simply a list of independent qualities God found endearing that we should aspire to if we wanted to be similarly blessed. While at first glance that may appear to be the case, I don’t think it’s as simple as just that. I wanted a deeper understanding of this passage so I began by looking up some commentaries on the curious phrase “poor in spirit” found in verse 3. As I perused a particular article which had listed the beatitudes at the beginning of the exposition I, for some reason, began to read just the first part of each line one after the other like this:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn… Blessed are the meek… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness… Blessed are the merciful… Blessed are the pure in heart… Blessed are the peacemakers… Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness… Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”
Suddenly, I saw a form begin to take shape in this passage I had never before noticed. It was as if God had lifted some invisible veil from my eyes and I could finally see what had seemed to be loosely related lumps of clay together actually formed a single beautiful sculpture. I began to see these beatitudes not as a list of proverbial blessings but as steps or stages in a journey which for every believer begins when he or she comes to the Father through our Savior Jesus. We all are indeed unique as are the paths we take and we walk them at different paces and in different ways, but as believers we make the same journey of transformation. Essentially, these beatitudes chronicle this shared transformation process. To paint a clearer picture of what I mean I will depict this journey in story form from a first person perspective using each beatitude to mark the corresponding stage in the transformation.
At some point in my life my eyes were opened and I became painfully aware of my spiritual bankruptcy or destitution and my desperate need for God. I knew that I was “poor in spirit” because I had nothing to offer God and was nothing without Him. At that point I had grasped the “key” to the kingdom of heaven, standing before its narrow gate, the door, who is Jesus. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This new revelation grieved me to my core, knowing I needed my Creator and yet because of my corrupt and destitute status I was unworthy of Him and would be forever separated from Him. However, with the hope of the knowledge that Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on my behalf had made a way to reconcile me to the Father, I was comforted. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
So I humbled myself, setting aside my pride and with a penitent heart, I presented myself before the King of Righteousness. I meekly laid my life before Him as an offering asking for His forgiveness. Because of Christ’s sacrifice the Father forgave me, restored me and adopted me. Upon adoption I became an heir with Christ under whom everything is subject. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
The compassion and mercy shown me ignited a fire of love and loyalty to the One who forgave and restored me. Love sparked in me an earnest desire to be like my Master and I became hungry and thirsty to please Him, to be righteous as He is righteous. God began to work in me a change so I would continue to seek what is good and right. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.”
This new desire to be like my Father and the understanding of my own need for mercy created a merciful attitude in me toward others reflecting the mercy shown me by the Creator. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.”
Because of this progressive transformation I began to see my heart being purified and my selfless and trusting nature restored and it is through this renewed heart’s lens that I am able to see God more and more clearly because it reflects His very nature. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
I am becoming a new man, reborn in my Creator’s image, merciful, upright, and selfless. A man who seeks peace between all mankind just as I began this journey seeking peace between my own soul and my Designer. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, bought that peace with his life. Pursuing peace is the mark of a son of God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”
As a poor and simple man who is empathetic, meek, desiring of what is good and right, merciful, selfless and a peacemaker I will be persecuted by those who aren’t. These characteristics mark me as a citizen of the kingdom, a child of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
As Jesus continues to transform me into a clearer reflection of the Father, I am proud to bear his name and to testify about what he has done. Inevitably, because of this, I will be mocked, ridiculed and persecuted by those opposed to God and yet I know I am blessed and am pleased to suffer for him who so gladly suffered for me. In the end I will be rewarded by being reunited with my Father and that is all I could ever want and hope for. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.”
This new perspective opened my eyes to how the progression of what I like to call the “salvation transformation” works in my own life. I constantly feel I should be a better person and Christian than I am sooner than I should be. I feel as if once I learn a truth about God and how it should be applied I should instantly be able to make that change to my life. To know it should be to do it, right? Though sometimes it can be just that simple, in most cases the application of truth is a much longer process more akin to a sculptor working with clay.
The sculptor sees a place on his creation that needs more clay but he doesn’t just attach a piece and call it a day. He has to mold and shape it to fit the overall contour of the sculpture so that it becomes seamlessly integrated. It no longer is just a part of the sculpture it is the sculpture. That seamless application took time, precision, forethought and a dedicated hand to make that transformation happen as envisioned. I have to remind myself then that knowing a truth is just the beginning of applying it to my life and I need to wait upon the Lord and let the Master Sculptor work in me as only He can. He is the Artisan and I am the clay. My part is to be pliable, accepting and open, trusting the Master to mold and shape me to His perfect design.
I hope you too can see how this passage depicts so beautifully the amazing transformation God works in each of us who follow Him and that you will be encouraged to patiently wait upon the Lord trusting Him and His ability to perfect the work He began in you from before the foundation of the world.
Peace and blessings!