The introduction to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is no doubt the most familiar section of His message (Matthew 5:1–12). Commonly called “The Beatitudes,” this section is the most descriptive word-portrait of a servant ever recorded. Let’s reread these immortal words slowly:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:3–12)
Let me suggest three general observations. First, these are eight character traits that identify true servanthood. When all eight are mixed together in a life, balance emerges. It is helpful to realize this is not a “multiple choice” list where we are free to pick and choose our favorites. Our Savior has stated very clearly those qualities that lead to a different lifestyle that pleases Him. A close examination of each is therefore essential.
Second, these traits open the door to inner happiness. Here are the fundamental attitudes which, when pursued and experienced, bring great satisfaction. Jesus offers fulfillment here like nothing else on earth. Study how each begins: “Blessed are . . . .” This is the only time our Lord repeats the same term eight times consecutively. Those who enter into these attitudes find lasting happiness.
Third, attached to each character trait is a corresponding promise. Did you notice this? “Blessed are . . . (the trait) for . . . (the promise).” Christ holds out a particular benefit for each particular quality. And what great promises they are! Small wonder when He finishes the sermon we read:
When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. (7:28–29)
Never before had His audience heard such marvelous truths presented in such an interesting and meaningful manner. They longed to have those promises incarnate in their lives.
So do we.
The eight character traits listed in The Beatitudes are not a multiple-choice list where we pick our favorites.— Charles R. Swindoll Tweet This