Yesterday, in my first sermon from our series, Lessons for the Way, I explained that the beatitudes are examples of grace over duty. The eight listed postures/attitudes are not to be understood as a means to earn salvation; rather, they describe the holy life that necessarily results from a genuine salvation. Blessings come before demand. I hope I made this plain.
The danger in excavating a single truth is that other truths remain buried. Whenever you choose a campsite, you necessarily leave some lands unexplored. I could come up with some other cheesy metaphors, but you get the point so there is no need for more obfuscation. (English is such fun!)
Intent on emphasizing God’s grace I breezed through the postures, and I have since been asked to repeat the definitions I gave. Because I am such an agreeable sort, I have consented. Aren’t I just swell?
- Those who are poor in spirit are keenly aware of their personal, moral unworthy. They know that without Christ, they are spiritually bankrupt.
- Those who mourn demonstrate an appropriate sorrow and grief over the state of their soul and that of the world.
- The meek person isn’t weak; rather they exhibit a humility that expresses itself in consideration. Moses was famous for being meek.
- To hunger for righteousness is to have an inner longing to be conformed to God’s will. This speaks of a sanctified ambition.
- Being merciful is to respond to other sinners and saints with a loving compassion.
- Those who are pure of heart have an inner goodness that reflects the purity of Christ.
- Peacemakers are adept at lessening tensions and restoring relationships. This includes everything from evangelism to conflict resolution.
- The persecuted are those who willingly endure hardship for the cause of Christ.
Focusing on these postures, without first looking to God, is likely to lead us into a works-based lifestyle, where we try to win the blue ribbon by being the best dog in show. But when we consider these responses in the light of grace, they become attainable and the glory is left to God (where it belongs). This is why I superimposed the postures of the beatitudes on top of the fruit of the spirit. This is what I found:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace [peacemaking], patience, kindness [merciful], goodness, faithfulness [hunger for righteousness], 23 gentleness [meek], self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires [poor in spirit & mourning]. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5)
While the list of approved attitudes are not identical, they have enough in common to remind us that progress is initiated by God, enabled by God, and rewarded by God. I am not advocating for a ”let go and let God” passivity. Hardly, I am calling us to live victorious lives that grow out of God’s unmerited favor.
There, I said it. Again.