Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The meaning of the word “poor” in Greek means one who has nothing and is completely empty. Was Jesus saying the economically poor are blessed? No, for there is no inherent spirituality in poverty. Poverty in itself is not blessed, because the poor can be as arrogant and as ungodly and as lost as the wealthy and powerful. So what does it mean to be poor in spirit? It means that the poor are those who realize that they can never achieve salvation on their own and instead put their complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
The poor in spirit are those who are not self-assertive, self-reliant, self-confident, self-centered, self-righteous or self-sufficient. The poor in spirit are not baptized in the waters of self-aggrandizement. They do not boast in their God given characteristics such as their birth, their family, their nationality, their education, their physical looks, their race, their wealth, or their culture. None of that matters. The poor in spirit are those who are conscious of their sins and know in their hearts that they need a most holy and loving God that pours love down upon them.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
The person that mourns is the one who recognizes that he or she is a sinner before God. Only through the grace of God do we have forgiveness and salvation. Jesus says such a person is blessed, and there is no greater blessing than to receive such divine approval. Those who are blessed in this way by God will see God and dwell with God forever.
Thus, the mourning of Christians referred to in this beatitude is not because of financial loss, terminal sickness, the death of loved ones, loneliness, a divorce, or some rejection being experienced. Christians mourn because they realize that they have sinned against a holy God and have brought dishonor to God’s name. This mourning is the kind of mourning recorded by Paul in Romans 7:24, where he says, “What a wretched man I am!”
Do you mourn for the many sins you have committed? The unbeliever feels that this is nothing but foolishness, and has no time for any of it. How about you?
Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.
The Greek word for meek, praus, was used to refer to domesticated animals. The word does not refer to a timid, shy creature; it refers to a strong and powerful horse or an ox that was trained and disciplined so that it could be useful.
What makes a person meek? They see God. And they see God in everything. Thus the meek person does not rely on him or herself, saying, I can do all things. I have confidence in myself. After all, I am strong and able. No, the meek person says, I see God, and God is able and willing to help me. I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. A meek person is not someone who you can walk all over; not passive and spineless. In fact, the meek person is just the opposite. The one who has put their faith and their trust in Jesus Christ will be meek before God, but mighty and bold in living out the Gospel.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for Righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
To help us understand this beatitude we first have to ask ourselves, what is meant by righteousness? The dictionary says righteousness is those things that are upright, virtuous, noble, morally right, and ethical. But righteousness, according to the Greek word used, means acting in complete accord with what is just, honorable, and Godly. Righteousness is something you do – not something you are. It is how you act. You could say that righteousness is a life style that is in complete conformity to the will of God.
Hunger and thirst are appetites that are basic to human existence. They return frequently and require satisfaction often during the day. God wants us to have the same type of appetite for acting righteously and justly – to nourish our spiritual needs, just as the living body calls for its daily food.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Mercy is love toward those that are miserable, those that are oppressed, and those that need some type of help or assistance. The merciful are those that are tender hearted and who truly feel in the deepest parts of their beings the pain and the suffering of those who need mercy. But most importantly is the fact that the merciful are those special individuals who go out of their way and make the effort to help. Having compassion on those that are in any way hurting is only the first part of having mercy. Doing something about it is the all important second part.
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.
Psalms 119:9 “How can a believer keep his heart pure? By keeping it according to the word of God”. In Mark 7:20, Jesus said, “It is what comes out of a person that defiles.”
How can we be pure in our thoughts, in our words, in our decision making, in our criticisms, and in our desires? How can we think what God thinks, will what God wills, desire what God desires, hate what God hates, and love what God loves? While I certainly don’t have all the answers for these questions, I think they begin with desire. We, first, need to want a pure heart. Maybe somehow the rest follows.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
The peacemakers are those children of God who not only have great love for God, but also have love for all of humankind and they attempt to do everything possible for the advancement of peace everywhere. The term “peacemakers” includes all who make peace between people, whether as individuals or as communities. It includes even those who endeavor to make peace even though they may fail.
The peacemakers are those who have a peaceful disposition because to make peace is to have a strong appetite for peace. It is to love, desire, and delight in peace. The peacemakers also want to preserve the peace and when the peace is broken, then the peacemakers have a great desire to recover it as quickly as possible. This is not the same as setting conflict aside. To wage peace is to address conflict directly, and to seek a peaceful and Godly solution.