The “Be” Attitudes
As He began the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus took His disciples aside and gave them a guideline of “How to live their lives in a way that would reflect God.” He didn’t say it that way, but as you read through the Beatitudes you will see some of the attributes of God.
I have modified the scripture verses to read more like a check list for each of us to follow. They give us an attitude we should have and the reason why. We begin:
He said to them:
Be willing to be poor in spirit,
for you will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Be willing to mourn,
for you will be comforted.
for you will inherit the earth.
Be willing to hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for you will be filled.
for you will be shown mercy.
Be pure in heart,
for you will see God.
for you will be called children of God.
Do not be afraid to be persecuted because of righteousness,
for yours will be the kingdom of heaven.
When people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me, rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Why did Jesus take them aside and tell them these things? These were the men that He was depending on to carry His message to the world, and they needed to know what He was demanding of them. These were the guidelines that they would have to live by as they preached the “good news” to the world.
We should be living by these same words if we are claiming the name of “Christian” before the world. The questions are: “Are we?”, or “How are we living?”
Now before I go any further, there are three areas in the eight “BE” Attitudes that I believe need to be explained in terms we understand.
There is a question in some commentaries as to what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit? Most non-Christians would not understand the meaning of the term even if it were explained to them, because it goes against their ingrained nature. I think one of the best ways to define it is to look at Luke 18: 10-14 – The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves, (they) will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Why was the Tax Collector justified? He displayed a “poor Spirit”. He humbled himself before God because he knew his self-worth. He knew that his strength came from God. We need to acknowledge that God is our strength, not ourselves, and ask Him to help us become more like Christ.
The second one is the word “meek”. This word today is defined as: quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive. However, the word in biblical time did not have the same meaning that we have today. The word meek from the original language was used to describe reining in a stallion. It is the idea of a horse being controlled by a bit and bridle. The horse is choosing to submit to authority. That is meekness. It is power under constraint
Meekness is not weakness; it is power under control. As the writer of Proverbs says: Proverbs 16:32."He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city". In contrast, the individual who is not gentle is likened to Proverbs 25:28 "a city that is broken into and without walls". Gentleness always uses its resources appropriately, unlike the out-of-control emotions that so often are destructive and have no place in your life as a believer.
Jesus had the quality of meekness. He was quiet, and gentle and was willing to serve others, but look at Matthew 21:12-13 Christian Standard Bible 12 Jesus went into the temple[a] and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of thieves!”
When ”push came to shove”, He was not willing to stand for what the world thought was right, but stood firmly for what He knew was right. He exhibited “power under control”. That’s what He expected from His disciples as he spoke to them on the Mount of Olives, and that’s what He expects from us today. Being a disciple of His is not going out into the world with Bible in hand and beating people into the kingdom. God doesn’t do that, He leads us to the KINGDOM, softening our hearts, so we accept His gift of forgiveness and eternal life in His Kingdom.
The third one is that we should be “peacemakers”. Notice that He didn’t say“peacekeepers”. A peacemaker is somebody who comes between two warring parties and takes the blows from each side in order to create peace. A peacekeeper just wants things to be status quo”. Or, don’t make waves. Jesus, however, wants us to be willing to step into those difficult situations that need a helping hand to bring about a peaceful resolution.
These are the “marching orders” that Jesus gave his disciples. These are the “marching orders” that we need to be following, as we serve Him today.
The question is: “Are we?”