If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
The Beatitudes are not to be read as a menu that you can pick and choose from; these graces are to be manifest in all Christians, they are a ‘person specification’ if you like, the marks of a Christian.
Here are some questions that you might ask when reading the Beatitudes:
Do I genuinely recognise the poverty of my own spirit?
Does my heart break over my sin and does it subsequently lead to repentance?
Am I meek?
Do I hunger for righteousness in every aspect of my life?
Am I able to be forgiving and merciful to others?
Does my mind reflect a pure heart? Are my motives sincere before Christ?
Am I a peace-maker? Wherever possible I speak peace and grace into a situation rather than adding fuel to the fire?
(Adapted from The Beatitudes for today by John Blanchard)
What emerges in the Beatitudes is a picture of a saint – in other words – the regenerate sinner! This is us!
It’s ironic that our society esteems the opposite characteristics to those described in the Beatitudes; take heart – we are meant to be at odds with the world! If we are persecuted for being Christ-like then we should rejoice!
John Stott put it this way:
Persecution is simply the clash between two irreconcilable value-systems.
If we fit in so neatly with the world, embracing it at every opportunity, the company we keep mostly the ungodly, we should earnestly look closely at our walk with God. If we choose to live out our Christianity quietly without many of our friends, colleagues or acquaintances knowing about our faith are we not proving that we are ashamed of the gospel?
As we display the characteristics in the Beatitudes we will have plenty of opportunities to answer the questions of onlookers who marvel (sometimes with disdain) at our responses. We want to demonstrate grace and loveliness to the world, the gospel is an offence, we are to be as a beautiful fragrance…
Meek when someone attacks or criticises us?
Merciful to someone who has behaved foolishly?
Glad, ‘exceedingly glad’ when persecuted?
I am really examining my responses as I study the Beatitudes and it will come as no surprise to say that there are countless times that my ‘righteousness has not exceeded the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees’ v 20!
My right hand has caused me to sin v 30, I have not turned the other cheek v 39, I have not loved my enemies v 44.
Am I content with my responses? No, I am deeply regretful for every single one and cry out in agreement with Paul:
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me
And I return – humbly – knee bowed – in need – to the Beatitudes and read
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.
God doesn’t require perfection but He does expect humility, we need Him, in all of the craziness of life, we need Him.
Every hour I need thee
Annie Hawks wrote this beautiful hymn that illustrates our need of grace:
I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.
I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessèd Son.
Shine brightly, you are a new creation, the former things have passed away.