The Beatitudes (Mt 5:2-11) are one of the most beautiful passages in the Scriptures. But the key question is how do we live in response to them? Are they the standard we must live by in order to be blessed? Is our goal to “be like that”? Although many Christians think so, they are absolutely wrong. And in their wrongness all they find is discouragement, shame and pain.
I like how Dallas Willard describes what Jesus was doing as He taught this passage – he was having a “show and tell” time. In the crowd Jesus was teaching were those who had just experienced the beatitudes. They had been the diseased, forgotten, and taken advantage of. They were mourning the loss of their health, families, and careers. Any hope they might have clung to had long disappeared. If these teachings were a new set of standards that they had to live up to in order to be blessed, then the message of the Kingdom that Jesus was preaching was cruel. It meant the kingdom of God and the blessing of God was an impossibility.
YET – they had all just experienced it! Just as they were. Poor in spirit. Mourning. Taken advantage of. Victims of injustice. Filled with unfulfilled expectations. And so the beatitudes are not teachings on how to be blessed. They are not commands we must obey. They are not instructions on how to please God. They are statements that shout the grace of God! Jesus is teaching that in the Kingdom of God His love is not earned. The blessings of the Kingdom of God are available to me right now, just as I am, because of my relationship with Jesus.
When we change the beatitudes from statements of grace into the New Testament Ten Commandments we have poisoned our walk with God. He has become a master we can never please. We will never be good enough to be blessed. Why try?
Let me ask you a question. What are the beatitudes to you? Are they a list of ways to buck up in order to please God? If they are you are pretty exhausted or you have already given up. Or are they the greatest good news you have ever heard…and experienced! Let me suggest you take some time to ponder how God has blessed you when you have least deserved it…and then give Him some genuine thanks for how He loves you just as you are.