The beatitudes cast a vision of maturing in righteous love, like the Father’s love, and then provides the practical advice on how to do disciplines with God to experience these treasures.
— value what God values.
Grow like your Heavenly Father!
Putt off old ways.
Put on new ways.
Live out God's ways.
A pattern appears in the beatitudes which seems to be the key to a sensible and practical reading of Jesus’ message in the Sermon on the Mount. This make sense in light of Jesus’ temptations and ministry, both of which led to the Sermon. This same cycle of maturity shows up elsewhere in the New Testament. It is real transformation, by grace, for those who belong to the Kingdom of Heaven; God in charge.
Matthew 5:3-10 records the beatitudes.
They are eight statements of blessedness, followed by explanations.
The eight blessed statements are then explained in reverse order, Matthew 5:11-6:24.
Matthew 5:11-48 is Jesus’ preview of a maturing, blessed life
Righteousness - You are blessed when your righteousness provokes persecution. This is what happens when you live loyal to God as King in a rebellious world. Mt. 5:11-20
5:11-12 costly blessedness: This blessed vision of life is not easy. Rejoice when your loyalty to God’s Kingdom is met with persecution from a rebellious world. That’s the way it has always been.
5:13 unmixed like salt: Salt loses saltiness by addition, not subtraction. Salt in a dish gets mixed with gunk when things are dipped in it. Then it is thrown out. Righteousness that is blessed is character that is unmixed with unrighteousness.
5:14-16 unhindered like light: Light is unmixed but must be unhindered to be useful. Trying to guard our “unmixed righteous character” by avoiding the world is not an option. We need to have a righteousness that is unmixed and unhindered. Righteous character is blessed because it extends goodness.
5:17-20 God’s rule is good and desirable: Human misery does not come from the wisdom of God’s law. Human misery comes from the foolishness of rebelling against the Creator and His ways. Religious legalism is bad; unrighteousness is too. More righteous than religiously legalistic people simply means living the wisdom of God the way it was meant. This is confusing and scary, partly because of technical theological debates. Jesus will explain what he means by saying this in very practical and compelling ways.
Peacemakers - Blessed are you when your identity with God results in practical reconciliation with other people. Mt. 5:21-26
5:21-22 Conflict met with angry contempt is a foolish way to deal with relational problems.
5:23-24 Conflict met with pious avoidance is a foolish way to deal with relational problems.
5:25-26 Active reconciliation is the wise and blessed way to deal with relational problems.
Pure-hearted Blessed are you when your character grows less mixed and more pure. Trusting in God’s grace and wisdom, we can grow to be less mixed in our thoughts and actions. As God clears up our character He is increasingly observable to us. Mt. 5:27-37
5:27-30 Sincere respect is better than restrained lust. A man not fully acting on a rebellious view of a woman is mixed in his motives and actions. The blessed way is to actually view a woman appropriately in your heart. If the heart is pure in its perception, then the body is not a concern.
5:31-32 Covenant faithfulness is better than generous unfaithfulness. Fair promise breaking is not pure; it is mixed thinking. Keeping the promise you make is consistent, pure, unmixed living.
5:33-37 Simple integrity is better than cleverness. Avoiding commitments one is afraid to make by carefully phrasing things, as if we can actually control things, is the worldly foolishness of rebellion. Resting in God’s grace allows us to speak clearly and honestly.
Merciful Blessed are you when you intentionally live in a stream of mercy. Mt. 5:38-48
5:38-42 Because you stand in God’s mercy, you can react to rebel ways with Kingdom ways.
5:43-47 The King is merciful because of who he is, not because of what people offer.
Grow Up Blessed! - In the way Father’s righteous character is completed in his actions, keep growing in living out who you are because of Him. Mt 5:48
5:48 You, therefore, “teleios” ( mature, consummate, complete) like your Father the King. God is love, and his love is shown in his actions, which are gracious, just and merciful. Growing up in God’s grace leads to increasing wisdom of thinking and acting with grace-guided justice and wisdom. That is the blessed way of living. That is what the fruitful, fresh and flourishing tree of Psalm 1 is illustrating. That is what Christ provides. It is good to want that grace to grow from the inside out, more and more, to the glory of God.
Disciplines are between God and his children (not others).
Matthew 6:1- There is no lasting value in proving yourself to people. The blessed life worth treasuring is found in living from God’s grace, to God’s glory.
Giving- Blessed satisfaction comes when you give to make things right.
6:2 Giving is worthless when done to look good.
6:3-4 Giving is treasured when it is done to meet real needs. Avoiding useless affirmation gives confidence our motives are what we hope they are.
Praying- Blessed provision comes when we meekly seek God’s purposes, the patient reconciliation of heaven and earth.
6:5 Praying for appearances is worthless hypocrisy.
6:6 Praying in ways you know are genuinely to God is valuable.
6:7-8 Prayer is not informing God, it is forming us.
6:9-10 Declare your allegiance to God as King of the heavens and your hope for his eventual undisputed rule over earth.
6:11 Pray for physical needs, reminding yourself that satisfaction exists because of God.
6:12 Pray for relational needs, reminding yourself that God’s forgiveness makes reconciliation possible.
6:13 Pray for spiritual needs, reminding yourself that God is the true King and that temptations to find satisfaction without him is a deception.
6:14-15 Forgiveness is the glory of God’s Kingdom. Unforgiveness is rebellious betrayal and will be treated as such.
Jesus suffered in the wilderness, even when he trusted the Father in prayer. The reality is that the rebellion in creation brings cursed deprivation, suffering and anguish. That reality is temporary. Jesus displays the future renewal of full provision and blessing when he miraculously provides now, what will be naturally provided when the Kingdom is fully established on Earth as in Heaven.
Fasting- Blessed comforting will follow grieving for unrighteousness in and around us.
6:16 Fasting for effect is worthless. There is no value in dramatics.
6:17-18 Fasting to the Father is valuable. It expresses our grief towards all that comes from rebellion.
Mortifying, putting to death, is what we do to the traitorous aspects of our heart, mind and actions. Fasting is a physical discipline meant to focus this intentional rejection of rebellious creation.
Treasuring- Blessed Kingdom treasures await those who realize the poverty of spiritual fullness experienced in a passing world that is separated from it’s eternal Creator.
6:19-21 We can lose our heart if we invest in impermanent worldly treasures instead of lasting Godly treasures.
6:22-23 Our ability to see value will have comprehensive impact on us. Healthy insight to value will lead to glorious light. Darkened views of what is valuable leads to disturbing darkness.
6:24 A knight cannot serve competing Kingdoms. Our loyalty either is to God as the ultimate treasure, or our loyalty is to treasures we can buy with our own money. Creator or creation; one leads to lasting blessedness.