Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. Matthew 5:12
I applied for a position in a Christian organization years ago and was presented with a list of legalistic rules having to do with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain forms of entertainment. “We expect Christian behavior from our employees” was the explanation. I could agree with this list because I, for reasons mostly unrelated to my faith, didn’t do those things. But my argumentative side thought, Why don’t they have a list about not being arrogant, insensitive, harsh, spiritually indifferent, and critical? None of these were addressed.
Following Jesus can’t be defined by a list of rules. It’s a subtle quality of life that’s difficult to quantify but can best be described as “beautiful.”
The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–10 sum up that beauty: Those who are indwelt by and dependent on the Spirit of Jesus are humble and self-effacing. They’re deeply touched by the suffering of others. They’re gentle and kind. They long for goodness in themselves and in others. They’re merciful to those who struggle and fail. They’re single-minded in their love for Jesus. They’re peaceful and leave behind a legacy of peace. They’re kind to those who misuse them, returning good for evil. And they’re blessed, a word that means “happy” in the deepest sense.
This kind of life attracts the attention of others and belongs to those who come to Jesus and ask Him for it.
Which of the attributes from Matthew 5 do you especially need in your life? How can you grow in this?
Spirit of God, please produce these characteristics from the Beatitudes in my life.
In his classic work Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote of “the utter deceitfulness of sin,” which “is always offering happiness, and . . . always leads to unhappiness.” In contrast, he noted that the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3–10) show us the path to true happiness. The characteristics Jesus describes here—the poor in spirit, the mournful, those hungry for righteousness, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted—define the true believer in Christ. Lloyd-Jones asserted that these traits aren’t naturally possessed by any of us. Such a way of living comes only by God’s grace and can be put into practice only by those in whom God’s Spirit resides. The “Beatitudes lifestyle” is entirely, radically dependent on the Holy Spirit. God will transform our lives so that those around us can’t help but notice the joy within us.