“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3
A mirror shows your physical characteristics, every wart, bump, and defect, especially just after stepping out of the shower or bath. But it cannot give any measurement of your soul, just as a camera cannot capture an exact likeness of your spirit. Jesus began his most famous sermon with what are called beatitudes, declarations of blessing, the keys of authentic human happiness. He sets forth a character of the soul which has been described as impossible to attain for any mere mortal.
If it is an impossible goal to achieve, why declare it at all? Why did Jesus define the genuine follower of Himself in this manner? If this is the case, can anyone be a true disciple of Christ? If Jesus is intent for your character to reflect the image of these Beatitudes, He would not have commanded later in this same chapter, “Therefore be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The Beatitudes set forth the character of Jesus Himself, a character he calls to be manifestly evident in any who would choose to be a Christian and make such a profession.
Most people use a mirror at least once a day, and many others much more frequently. The Christian should use the Beatitudes as a mirror of the soul at least as often. We quickly forget its instruction and guidance of what our character ought to be as life itself tests every aspect of who we are. The response of Christians to people, circumstances, and things reflects their character and whether or not Christ really dwells within them. The Beatitudes will search out everything about who you really are and put every thought and response through the microscope of the Spirit of God. Each Beatitude is a probing statement of truth concerning your nature, appetites, and reactions to your world and those in it.
In the application of The Sermon on the Mount in the final seventeen verses of Matthew 7, Jesus speaks of false prophets and false self-confessing disciples of Jesus. He says you will know them by the fruit in their life, by their true character. And how will you ascertain such fruit and character? By using the mirror of the Beatitudes! You can measure actual character by comparing their lives, reactions, responses, desires, goals to what Jesus says in these probing statements of who is blessed and, by consequence of failure to be and do, who is not blessed. Without fail the Beatitudes will find them out. They will examine their life and character, even as we use them to examine ourselves. Are you “in the faith” or not? Or, as Jesus points out to the many who call Him “Lord, Lord,” he does not even know them. And He says chillingly to their face, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
The leading Beatitude which reflects powerfully on all the rest is the poverty of spirit of every true disciple of the Lord Jesus. Such a disciple sees himself as one who is totally bereft of any good thing. He is the most miserable of sinners, and like Paul, the chiefest sinner among all. He is so in need of Jesus and His atonement for sin, that he truly hungers and thirsts for righteousness. He must have it, or he will die. Nothing can take its place. He mourns for his sin, he mourns for the sin of the world, but his own is his chief weight.
Therefore, he is genuinely meek, for he has nothing in himself in which to take pride; nothing in which to boast. Jesus’ greatest praise of His servant Moses was that he was the meekest man on the face of the earth. The truly humble person has no idea he is humble or meek. In fact, he mourns because he is not.
A true Christian is full of mercy for others, because God has been merciful to him. How can he fail to have mercy, when mercy has been lavished on him? He is pure in heart because he hates even the suggestion of sin in his life. He may still sin, but he hates even the thought of it. His bones, like the Psalmist, ache within him as he contemplates his own sin.
He seeks peace, not at the expense of holiness, but for the sake of Christ, peace is always his chief desire. He is, therefore, a maker of peace rather than murmuring and complaining, and stirring up strife. He will remain quiet when persecuted and not defend his “rights.” He will bear persecution to enter into fellowship with his Savior’s suffering; to become a partner with his Lord in the persecution which he Himself bore.
These Beatitudes are your soul’s best mirror of a character which is truly Christ-like; a mirror to be utilized daily. It draws you nearer to Him who is your life, and your great reward.
“Jesus, my all in all thou art; my rest in toil, my ease in pain, the medicine of my broken heart, in war my peace, in loss my gain, my smile beneath the tyrant’s frown, in shame my glory and my crown.”
(3rd verse of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “Thou Hidden Source of Calm Repose,” 1749)
Sign up for our monthly newsletter and weekly devotional