I invite you to read Matthew 5:3-12 for a better understanding of the remarks below.
Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount by describing the kind of people God can bless. Nine times Jesus promises blessings for those who demonstrate certain qualities. A quick overview of these qualities shows a clear progression that begins within a person and changes that person from the inside-out.
Beginning at the deepest, most private and invisible part of a person – the spirit – Jesus says that those who are poor in spirit are participants in his kingdom. From this core, hidden away deep inside each person, Jesus progresses to the emotions – those who mourn, then to character – the meek. Each of these qualities are deeply personal, and are not directly visible to others. But Jesus then moves to the qualities demonstrated through our interaction with people around us. This begins with a new purpose – a hunger for righteousness, leads to thoughts and actions that are merciful toward others, and ultimately produces integrity in all our actions – a pure heart.
People who have developed these qualities and experienced these blessings in their lives naturally begin sharing the richness of their relationship with God with others. Jesus describes them as peacemakers. These believers are doing what the Apostle Paul says all Christians are to do: the work of reconciliation, bringing others into right relationship with God and with one another. (2 Corinthians 5:18)
It is when those around us see us as peacemakers that we will be called the children of God. But this honor – to be known and recognized as God’s child by people who observe our lives – is the culmination of a progressive and continual process of becoming God’s kind of people, from the inside-out.
This process of becoming God’s kind of people continues throughout a Christian’s life, but it always develops in this manner; it is always from the inside-out. And, if we are really God’s people, it always happens.
The last two blessings Jesus promises are to those who have developed Godly character, and who are challenged precisely because of their godliness. Unfortunately, sometimes when we attempt to share God’s ways and blessings with others, there are reactions. Such reactions might lead to ridicule or persecution, but Jesus promised God’s blessings upon those experiencing attacks or rejection – if the attacks are because of our righteous character and actions.
From this simple overview, two significant questions should immediately come to mind:
1. Do I have a relationship with God that is changing me from the inside-out?
2. Is my appearance on the outside – the way I want others to see me – consistent with the work God is doing on the inside – what I really am?
Which brings us back to the beginning: Am I the kind of person that God will bless?
Please note: This is a repeat of an earlier article written by Michael Parham on 2/25/2011.