By Andrew V. Ste. Marie
“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:1-12 Authorized Version
The Sermon on the Mount is undoubtedly the most influential sermon ever preached – and rightly so, considering that it was preached by God Himself. This sermon is the largest single collection of Jesus’ Kingdom commandments and teachings in one place in the Gospels, although by no means the only one.
Jesus began the Sermon with the beatitudes, which reveal attitudes of heart and life which God values. The values which God has and which He has designed His Kingdom to work around are very different from the values of the world, the flesh, and the devil. The regenerated Christian is to have the same system of values which God has, for we are to have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5).
The first attribute which God values and blesses is humility – “poor in spirit.” Humility is necessary if we are to have salvation. The proud man cannot come to God and beg for his soul. It takes humility to do that. Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4).
The next is mourning. The world places little value on mourning; it values parties, merry-making, pleasure-seeking, and fun. But there is a time to mourn, and those who mourn in season are blessed by God.
God also values meekness. Webster defines meekness, “Softness of temper; mildness; gentleness; forbearance under injuries and provocations…humility; resignation; submission to the divine will, without murmuring or peevishness.” The kings, emperors, and conquerors of this world, who fought with weapons of force to get what they wanted, have all passed away sooner or later – but the meek and peaceable Kingdom of God has endured through the centuries. When all the warriors of this world are forgotten, the meek will still exist and will inherit the earth.
God also values a longing after righteousness. The world wants nothing to do with righteousness, and calls it “intolerance.” The apostate church wants nothing to do with righteousness, and calls it “legalism.” But those who hunger and thirst after righteousness have the wonderful promise of God that they will be filled.
The merciful are valued by God, although the world prefers to think “he is getting what he deserves.” The Godly man, motivated by mercy, gives aid to all.
Purity is valued highly by God. God Himself is pure and holy, and would have His people to be as well. The Apostle James tells us that part of the duty of pure religion is “to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
Peacemakers are valued in God’s Kingdom. While the world prefers people who are pushy and get what they want by force, God values people who are willing to bring reconciliation and peace into highly charged situations. Those who make peace imitate the Lord Jesus, Who “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:20).
Finally, God values those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness and the sake of His Son. When we are persecuted, we have the opportunity to show the character of our Heavenly Father to the fallen world by loving and forgiving our enemies. This is exactly what Jesus did on the cross when He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
God will grant grace to live in a way which conforms to the value system of His Kingdom. “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
Originally published in The Witness, April 2013.