On Christian Virtue Part 18

How Should I Respond to The Beatitudes, Concluding Thoughts

To conclude this commentary on the Beatitudes of Matthew 5, I would like to say a few things about how we are to respond to the teaching Jesus gave on that hill in Galilee.  What can we learn and how should we respond to these virtues Jesus has laid before us?

First, recognize the Beatitudes are about the condition of our hearts.  Individually and together, these virtues describe the condition of the heart of the person who is favored by and approved by God.  The heart describes the seat of our emotions, contains the values we hold dear and drive our actions and attitudes toward others.  The Beatitudes are about the kind of heart a person has whom God has blessed with salvation.

Second, recognize that the Beatitudes are interrelated and they rise or fall together.  That is why each builds upon the previous; each is a step toward Christlikeness.  Seeing our spiritual poverty, understand it is a reason for mourning, for being humble and for seeking to find righteousness, it the precursor, the first steps to responding properly to dealing with others and the world.  You can’t try to develop on particular virtue over another.  They all go together to build up the whole man or woman toward Christlikeness.

Third, the Beatitudes are the key to the rest of the principles taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  The behaviors demanded by the Bible can be faked, but not for long.  The key to living in light of Jesus’ teaching in this sermon is the heart attitude that is brought about by the Beatitudes.  That’s why Jesus begins with these eight virtues.  They are the key to living the Christian life because the Christian life must be undergirded by a heart aligned with these virtues.  The Christian character we desire that Jesus describes in vss. 13-16 flow naturally out of the virtues He describes as foundational in vss. 1-12.

““You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13–16, ESV)

Salt and light are how Jesus describes His disciples.  Salt and light describe the impact that Christians are to have on the environment in which God has placed each of us.  Salt flavors and preserves, light dispels darkness.  The result is Christian fruitfulness which are the good works that unbelievers see in us which glorify God in heaven.  The good works are then described by Jesus in the rest of the Sermon, from Matthew 5:17 through 7:29.  But it must begin with the Beatitudes.  Spiritual health and the fruit bearing that demonstrates we are truly
changed flow from character and a Christ-like character is built on the foundation of the eight Beatitudes.

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17, ESV)

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