Beatitudes · Introduction

W1: Introduction: Choosing the Beatitudes

Last summer, my son, Egan, was memorizing the Beatitudes as part of a school assignment.  Every day I would overhear him practicing in an almost rhythmic recitation—memorizing the sounds of the words together, rather than the words themselves.  For him, at age 8, the concepts (and even some of the words!) are foreign and difficult to understand.  Even for me, in my 30s, some of the concepts and words are difficult to understand on a practical level!  However, the memorization and recitation of this powerful passage of scripture is like a seed that has been planted in his heart.

The seed may lie dormant for years and years until it is watered and can begin to grow.  But it is there in his subconscious and spirit.  Similarly, I believe that the Beatitudes are a seed in my own heart.  The words have been read or heard periodically over the course of my life, however, their true significance lays dormant and full of potential. 

Daily hearing my son’s robotic recitation of the Beatitudes began to water the seed that lay dormant in my heart.  I found myself frequently being reminded of various verses in that section of Matthew 5.  Finally, one afternoon I was driving to a lunch date with my husband and mulling over “blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled”.  How do I get to that point where I seek righteousness before food?  I wondered to myself.  I want it, but I am a fleshly being, so I instinctively hunger and thirst for food and drink.  But I want to be blessed and I want to be filled. 

By the time I arrived at my destination, the entire concept of this study was kind of downloaded into my brain.  I had to wait for Steve, so I made notes on my phone and outlined the entire thing.  I knew that I wanted to have my heart transformed by the Beatitudes, and I knew that I wanted to share this experience with others.

So many steps of obedience I am called to take are ones that did not make my To Do list for the day—this study being one them.  They come about from having a heart that is listening for the Lord’s whisper, or allowing myself to be guided by the Holy Spirit.  I was not planning for this study, and I certainly don’t have all the answers to my questions.  I feel unprepared to facilitate this discussion, but I am confident that God will use me in my inadequacies. 

I believe that each of the characteristics described by the Beatitudes allows us to be even more in tune with the Holy Spirit and God’s will.  Subsequently, I believe that these characteristics help us to gain wisdom because of how our hearts will be shaped. 

The Beatitudes are not a set of commands, just as the pursuit of godly wisdom is not a command.  Rather, these verses are a series of teaching statements.  If Jesus chose to have these be the introduction to His longest recorded sermon, then there must be more value to them than just something to memorize and recite.  Jesus is teaching us something—let’s pray for the wisdom to understand!

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3-10

Questions to think and pray about this week:

  1. As you read through the Beatitudes, do any jump out as ones you particularly want to understand or focus on?
  2. These verses all begin with “blessed”.  Blessing can be a vague concept—not a concrete calculation of positive life experiences or list of Amazon packages we will receive on our doorstep from God.  I’ve read somewhere that the word blessing actually means inheritance.  What are your expectations when you anticipate blessings from God?  Have you been disappointed in the past when your expectations of blessings do not match their reality?
  3. As mentioned, the Beatitudes are not commands, but rather teachings.  What is your personal motivation to understand and follow Jesus’ teachings? 

As you pray this week, ask God for a teachable heart.  Ask Him to help you listen for the roots of what He would have you learn—not just what appears on the surface.  Thank Him for the teachings of Jesus, which both shape our hearts and show us God’s heart.

Dear Lord, thank you for this study.  Thank you for the Beatitudes and the wisdom contained in them.  Please give us unified insight into how we can apply this scripture to our lives.  Please help us to uplift and encourage each other.  Lord, thank you for being a faithful God who listens to our prayers.  Help us to be continually reminded of you this week—your words coming to us at the right times so that we are able to respond to every situation with the grace and strength we have in you.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

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