We’re going through the Sermon on the Mount this summer at MainStreet. This week we covered the Beatitudes. Here’s John Stott’s concise, insightful summary of these 8 countercultural kingdom qualities Jesus calls us to develop.
Blessed are (1) the poor in spirit, (2) those who mourn, (3) the meek, (4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, (5) the merciful, (6) the pure in heart, (7) the peacemakers, and (8) those who are persecuted because of righteousness….
“The beatitudes paint a comprehensive portrait of a Christian disciple.We see him first alone on his knees before God, acknowledging his spiritual poverty (POOR IN SPIRIT) and MOURNING over it. This makes hims MEEK or gentle in all his relationships, since honesty compels him to allow others to think of him what before God he confesses himself to be. Yet he is far from acquiescing in his sinfulness, for he HUNGERS and THIRSTS AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS, longing to grow in grace and in goodness.
We see him next with others, out in the human community. His relationship with God does not cause him to withdraw from society, nor is he insulated from the world’s pain. On the contrary, he is in the thick of it, showing mercy (MERCIFUL) to those battered by adversity and sin. He is transparently sincere (PURE IN HEART) in all his dealings and seeks to play a constructive role as a PEACEMAKER. Yet he is not thanked for his efforts, but rather opposed, slandered, insulted and PERSECUTED on account of the righteousness for which he stands and the Christ with whom he is identified.
Such is the man or woman who is ‘blessed’, that is, who has the approval of God and finds self-fulfilment as a human being.
Yet in all this the values and standards of Jesus are in direct conflict with the commonly accepted values and standards of the world. The world judges the rich to be blessed, not the poor, whether in the material or in the spiritual sphere; the happy-go-lucky and carefree, not those who take evil so seriously that they mourn over it; the strong and brash, not the meek and gentle; the full not the hungry; those who mind their own business, not those who meddle in other men’s matter and occupy their time in do-goodery like ‘showing mercy’ and ‘making peace’; those who attain their ends even if necessary by devious means, not the pure in heart who refuse to compromise their integrity; those who are secure and popular, and live at ease, not those who have to suffer persecution.”
-John Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, p. 54