- Matthew 5:3-12–“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for 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 sons of God.Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Blessed–in the Greek it actually means “supremely blest” and “happier.” We speak so often of the eternal reward that comes with living the life of faith. We talk perseverance, endurance, and turning the other cheek. We talk character development and personal discipline. Not today.
The beatitudes are all about happiness. Yep, I said it. There is happiness in the here and now. This isn’t an interpretation–these are the very words of Jesus.
Read through the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12. What stands out to you?
Spend some time meditating on the reality that God wants to bless you.
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN, FOR THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED
in this section, we will focus on just one of these statements, found in Matthew 5:4. “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” (NKJV).
We don’t mourn this way. Rather than mourning, what we often see and show is far from it. Stoic. Showing no emotion. Letting nobody see the fragility, the heartache, the struggle. Telling yourself over and over, “It will be okay, it will be okay” all so the emotion doesn’t overtake you.
You think the stiff upper lip is a sign of endurance.
As someone who has experienced more than thirty deaths among my friends and family, the stiff upper lip is a flat-out lie. Yes, sometimes getting through a day at work requires the stiff upper lip. But if you never let yourself mourn, you will never heal.
This is worth repeating–if you never let yourself mourn, you will never heal.
Maybe you are not mourning a death. May you are mourning something else:
a missed opportunity
a disappointment, major or minor
the loss of a job
the loss of trust
the loss of peace of mind
Or maybe you’re angry:
angry at the world
angry at your family
angry at God
The stiff upper lip is a lie. We have twisted scripture and faith to make it seem like we are more spiritual when we do not show our struggle. For example, Matthew 6:16 reads, “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward in full” (NKJV).
What about that? Isn’t that stiff upper-lipping it? No. Using this to say we should hide our struggle takes the scripture out of context.
The first three words of the Matthew 6:16 verse belie the context of such concealing: “Whenever you fast…” Concealing the struggles is a very specific, very discreet situation. Look later in the same verse for the reason for concealment, highlighting the motivation of the hypocrites: “…so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting.” The motivation to be seen is the problem–to battle that motivation, you conceal the action. And though some may “mourn” publicly to be seen by men, we aren’t talking about that today.
Today is about the gut-level mourning that needs to happen in your life so that you can heal. So, what does God say about mourning and/or weeping?
Read Genesis 43:30. What happens in that verse?
Read Ecclesiastes 3:4. What are we told there?
Read Job 16:20. To whom did Job weep?
Weeping and mourning are natural. God gave us those emotions so that we could fully experience both the heartache of life as well as the comfort of healing. Weeping and mourning are healing mechanisms.
Why? Well, one reason is that weeping and mourning encourage fellowship.
Read Romans 12:15. What stands out to you?
The God of the universe, Who created us as social beings, uses even heartache and mourning to draw us together. Stiff upper-lipping life denies the opportunity to come together in fellowship. Denying yourself the healing opportunity to mourn also denies yourself the opportunity to be loved, cared for, and encouraged by those in your fellowship circle.
What losses and/or disappointments are you facing (or refusing to face)?
God encourages weeping for a time. The extent to which He speaks of it in scripture surprised me. Check out His extensive examples of weeping. Read the following verses–what stands out to you?
What about mourning? What does God tell up about mourning? Read the following verses and write out what stands out to you:
2 Samuel 13:37
God designed us. He gave us coping mechanisms to go along with our life experiences. And He gave us mourning and weeping to heal. I can guarantee you, until you mourn, the pressure will increase, the pain will amplify, and the fears driving the avoidance of mourning will actually grow far bigger than it need to be. I have lived both sides of mourning. Whatever the loss, the disappointment, or the anger, God has designed you to mourn. Take Him up on it.
BLESSED ARE THE MEEK, FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH
This section will explore yet another often misunderstood concept of our faith–meekness. We think it is soft, weak, and lack discernment. This is not at all the meekness displayed by our own Savior. First, let’s take a look at what He said about meekness. Then we’ll look at His example of choosing meekness in the face of adversity.
Read and write out Matthew 5:5.
What questions arise when you read this?
Where most would correctly equate meekness with gentleness, mercy and grace, the core of the word means so much more. Merriam-Webster defines meek as “not having or showing any feelings of superiority, self-assertiveness, or showy-ness.”
Be very careful. Meekness and weakness differ tremendously from each other.
- Weak lacks strength. Meek shows restraint.
- A weak soldier lacks the skills to effectively handle his weapon or his decisions on when to use it. He lacks wisdom. A meek soldier is finely-tuned, wise and shows restraint–not going off half-cocked, but discerning when to use his weapons most effectively to achieve the desired outcome.
- Weakness blusters and draws attention to itself. Meekness takes in a situation and wisely decides the best course of action, even willing to abide by no action at all.
Read the following scriptures. Identify the benefits of meekness (some translations use “humble” or humility”)
1 Peter 3:4
Through meekness, Jesus communicated, not only in times of healing and teaching, but also in times of rebuke. Meekness knows how to effectively act using only as much power as necessary. Jesus was the master at meekness.
Read John 8:1-11. What stands out to you?
Both the crowd and the woman sinned. But to the crowd, Jesus drew a “line in the sand,” so to speak. He forced them to confront their arrogance and mercilessness. And they walked away, convicted of their sin.
But the woman–He approached her differently. He asked her a simple question, showing her nobody was there condemning her; a question causing her to raise her head from her place of shame. He then, in no uncertain terms, tells her that He, too, does not condemn her. He then provides gentle direction to “sin no more.”
The crowd, in their arrogance and manipulation, needed to be shamed. The woman, in her humiliation, needed to be restored.
Both were confronted with their sin. Both were given exactly what was necessary to correct them. Both treated as individual situations. Both turned back to righteousness–through two very different approaches.
Meekness rises above the fray and chooses battles–and battle strategies–wisely. It is not rushed. It is not weak. For it is strong beyond compare.
In what ways can you practice meekness today?
For extra study: if you want to read about how God responds to those who attack the meek, check out Numbers 12:1-10.
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, FOR THEY SHALL BE CALLED SONS OF GOD
meekness is a natural precursor to the next beatitude we’ll study. Matthew 5:9 reads, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Be aware: peacemakers are not namby-pamby wimps. On the contrary, it is the use of strength beyond measure. To understand peace, we first explore the opposites of peace: strife and anxiety.
What do the following scriptures say about strife?
1 Corinthians 11:16
What do the following scriptures say about anxiety and/or fear?
1 Peter 5:7
1 Corinthians 2:3
What stands out to you about God’s word regarding strife and/or anxiety?
God has an answer to the anxiety and strife we face. What does He share in the following scriptures?
What stands out to you about God’s response to these peace-stealers in life?
Describe any areas in your life with these anit-peace elements.
Bringing peace to a situation often means making–and keeping–hard decisions. What decisions is God asking you to make regarding these issues?
Blessed are the peacemakers. Peace requires constant attention. Like so many other elements of our faith, peace is a choice. If peace is your desire, look up, write out, and memorize the following verses:
2 Corinthians 10:5-6
Guard your heart and mind to obey Christ. And the promise for peacemakers shall be yours.
BLESSED ARE THE…POOR IN SPIRIT, THOSE WHO HUNGER & THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, MERCIFUL
Read through the following beatitudes. Not what stands out to you.
Matthew 5:3. What is God asking you to do with this beatitude?
Matthew 5:6. What is God asking you to do with this beatitude?
Matthew 5:7. What is God asking you to do with this beatitude?
BLESSED ARE THE…PURE IN HEART, PERSECUTED FOR THE SAKE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHEN PEOPLE INSULT AND PERSECUTE AND SAY FALSE THINGS ABOUT YOU…REJOICE AND BE GLAD.
Continue working on the rest of the beatitudes.
Matthew 5:8. What is God asking you to do with this beatitude?
Matthew 5:10. What is God asking you to do with this beatitude?
Matthew 5:11. What is God asking you to do with this beatitude?
Matthew 5:12. What is God asking you to do with this beatitude?
Praise God that amid all these reminders, His grace abounds evermore that we may live the life of kingdom abundance while still in this mortal existence.