Wednesday, January 07, 2009


There is something about the Beatitudes that has always bothered me. I’ll show you what it is in a minute. I’ve preached through them. I’ve taught them. I’ve translated and exegeted them. I’ve read books written by scholars on them. I’ve read collections of pastors’ sermons on them. I love them. I love their poetry. I love their passion and compassion. I love everything they stand for.

Yet, there is something about the Beatitudes that has always bothered me. In spite of everything I just said in the paragraph above, I’m not sure I understand them well. As I read through them again this evening I had what might well be an epiphany for me. (Quite appropriate following Epiphany Sunday!) I think I may have been interpreting the Beatitudes wrong for a lot of years.

No matter how much I grow in the Lord and in my faith, most of the Beatitudes just don’t describe me very well. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to develop the characteristics of the Beatitudes. And I noticed, they aren’t commands! Jesus doesn’t tell his disciples or us to do anything. He simply makes indicative statements about the characteristics of people who are blessed by God!

I’ve never been very successful in becoming poor in spirit, whatever that really means. Nor is mourning a daily exercise for me, although I have mourned deeply at times in my life. Meek? Not a word people often use to describe me. Hunger and thirst for righteousness. Now that is interesting. I can’t make myself hungry or thirsty for food or water. It just happens when I need them. I begin to wonder, “Is this something the Holy Spirit has to put into me? Maybe only God can make me hunger and thirst for righteousness?” Well, that would make sense because anyone who has a hunger and thirst for righteousness would truly be blessed! Merciful? I’ve seen God produce mercy in me. What did I just say? God produced mercy in me? I know I didn’t produce it myself. There it is again; something God did in me! Pure in heart? Again, God has purified my heart over the years that I have walked with him. Blessed are the peacemakers. (Notice it doesn’t say “peacekeepers.”) Not just anyone can be a peacemaker. He or she must be thrust into a situation in which peace must be made. Again, a God thing. And persecution; I can’t bring about persecution. God must put me into a situation in which I might be persecuted.

This kind of thinking seems to continue in this introductory passage to the Sermon on the Mount. No commands. Simple statements. “You ARE the salt of the earth.” He doesn’t say, “Be sure to BECOME the salt of the earth.” Same thing with “you ARE the light of the world.”

Then comes the closest thing to a command we have so far, “Let your light shine before men.” (Matthew 5:16) But then comes the rest of the verse, the part we often neglect to consider. Once again I learn that it is not about me; it’s all about God. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and PRAISE YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN.” So THAT’S what the Beatitudes are really all about! God produces these things in us so he can get the glory! Amen!


At 3:55 AM, Blogger mark pierson said...

I would like to produce this post at BC blog.

May I?

If so please go to my profile page and Email me.


At 5:18 PM, Blogger holly said...

Wow! I loved reading this and thinking about the things that God produces in us as we are sanctified so that He can be glorified. I never quite feel like I line up with the Beatitudes.....I am still challenged but feeling encouraged as well. What will He have produced in me by the time I'm 60?


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