The Expository Files


 Beautiful Attitudes

 Matthew 5:3-10

Think about this: “What attitudes would Jesus' ideal disciple have?”

Well, he/she would have a strong spirit that would rise above all and would always be joyful and life would be filled with unceasing laughter. One would always confidently and loudly insist on his or her way since the Lord depends on his/her wisdom so much. One would be so full of righteousness that he/she would be absolutely satisfied. One would show disdain for people who would degrade themselves in sin and would be conspicuous in appearing righteous before others, so they could be impressed with godliness. One would be admired by all.

Well, the fact is that the above description is just as opposite of how Jesus describes the ideal disciple as one can get. Early in His ministry Jesus tells us what He wants in His disciples as far as attitudes. The Man of Galilee pronounced as “blessed” those who would acquire these qualities. To be “blessed” means to be fortunate, favored or happy. And Jesus lists qualities that few would expect to find in a treatise on “What it takes to be happy.”

Essentially, Jesus contrasted true righteousness in His kingdom with the false righteousness of the Pharisees and their traditions. The Pharisees would have agreed with the attitudes listed back in the second paragraph. Sadly, many today would tend to side with the Pharisees on this one. Consider the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10).

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit (Matthew 5:3)
One who has this attitude is willing to say, “Lord, I will become what you want me to be.” The haughty or proud in spirit are unwilling to make this kind of commitment. It is only when we realize our spiritual poverty without Jesus that we are happy to accept His grace. The proud, the highborn, the wealthy and the privileged do not have priority in God's kingdom (James 1:9,10; 2:1-7; 5:1-6). Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn (Matthew 5:4)
Mourning and sorrow is not a sign of weakness. The ability to be moved because someone is sensitive, compassionate and caring is a good thing. There are both things to cry about and things to laugh about in life for God's faithful ones. It is important to understand which is which. Jesus wept at others' grief (John 11:30-37) and also at the spiritually lost (Matthew 23:37). The Scriptures teach that it is proper and necessary to have godly sorrow for our own sins (2 Corinthians 7:10). Blessed are those who have such sorrow, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed Are The Gentle (Matthew 5:5)
To be “gentle” is to be meek, humble and considerate. It is the opposite of arrogance. It does not seek its own advancement at others' expense. In a “dog-eat-dog” world where many elbow their way to the top, Jesus pronounces as “blessed” one who is not so caught up in the rat race that he is behaving like a rat.

Jesus was meek, but not always soft spoken, not unspirited, and never weak. It does not mean that we allow ourselves to be abused without a word. Jesus even addressed His accusers at His trial by challenging them, “Why did you strike Me?” (see John 18:19-23; cf. Acts 16:35-39). Those who are gentle are blessed because they will “inherit the earth” which is a figure of speech suggesting that they will “gain everything.”

Blessed Are They That Hunger After Righteousness (Matthew 5:6)
This beatitude suggests that hungering after righteousness is an ever present part of a disciple's life. We are are confident and at peace within, we do not stop growing in the Lord, and we do not stop filling ourselves up with His righteousness. We are never satisfied with mediocrity. We have developed an appetite for doing His will. Jesus promises that those who have this drive are
blessed “because they will be filled” (cf. John 4:13,14; 6:27-40; 7:37-39).

Blessed Are The Merciful (Matthew 5:7)
Mercy and compassion are traits which bring their possessors' blessings. Mercy shows itself in seeking to restore the fallen and to save the lost. The most merciful thing one can do for a sinner is to seek to impress upon him the need for a Savior. Mercy is also seen in our willingness to forgive. It is seen in helping those who need help. (Matthew 9:10-13). If one is not prepared to extend mercy, then let him also be prepared not to receive any (Matthew 18:23-35). One is blessed if he is merciful because he shall receive mercy

Blessed Are The Pure In Heart (Matthew 5:8)
Being religious can involve only outward appearances, but being right with God involves the heart as well. Obedience of the gospel is necessary, but let it be from the heart (Romans 6:17). Jesus is not saying anything new here. Contrary to opinion of the day, God had never been pleased with empty ritual (Proverbs 15:8; 21:3; Isaiah 1:10-20). Our obedience must always be from the heart else it is vain (1 Peter 1:22-25; Matthew 15:8,9). The end result of pure heartedness is to one day see God and share eternity with Him.

Blessed Are The Peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
Most of the Jews of Jesus' day were looking for a warrior to lead warriors against Rome. Instead, Jesus was leading an army of peacemakers. The advancement of true peace among men is the job of Jesus' peacemakers. This does not mean that there are not risks and conflicts. Seeking to bring reconciliation between God and men and/or men and men can get one into trouble. Are you willing to assume the risks, wage war against Satan, and proclaim the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:10-17)? Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed Are The Persecuted (Matthew 5:10-12)
There is no room in the kingdom for the cowardly. We ought not to expect any better reception than the faithful of old received from the world. There is no dignity nor nobility in avoiding persecution by compromising faith. All who desire to live godly will be persecuted (2 Timothy 2:8-10). One not willing to stand side by side with Jesus and face persecution for righteousness sake will never know the blessing of possessing the kingdom of heaven.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 19.2; February 2012