Now that we are into Jesus' ministry, we are going to see five major discourses throughout the rest of the Gospel of Matthew. The first is one that many people are familiar with: the Sermon on the Mount. Over the next two months, we'll be covering the Sermon on the Mount – a collection of teachings attributed to Jesus.
The Sermon on the Mount starts with the Beatitudes. In Latin, beatitudes is beatus or "blessed, happy." Oftentimes, people will correlate being blessed with their circumstances; however, that's not the case. Being "blessed" is a state of well-being in relationship to God that belongs to those who respond to Jesus' ministry – NOT a temporary or circumstantial feeling of happiness. Your circumstances might change, but in Christ, you can still be blessed.
Let's take some time to read through all the beatitudes:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
-Matthew 5:3-12 [emphasis added]
Notice that it doesn't mention material things. It doesn't say, "blessed are those who have X job" or "blessed are those who… (other example)". It might actually shock some to see things that have a negative connotation to them, such as poor in spirit, mourn, persecuted, etc. How can you be blessed in those ways?
Poor in spirit
The poor in spirit recognize they are in need of God's help. These people have humility ("a modest or low view of one's own importance"). You are blessed when you have this understanding that you can't do life or gain salvation on your own.
Mourning is to feel or show deep sorrow or regret for something. When talking about those who mourn in the beatitudes, it's talking about mourning our sinful nature. To mourn our sinful nature creates intention for us to long for God's forgiveness and healing.
"For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death."
- 2 Corinthians 7:10
To a lot of people, being meek is seen as a sign of weakness. Really it is gentleness, submissive, self-control. A meek person can do something but CHOOSES not to (has self-control), whereas a weak person can't do anything. Our culture doesn't celebrate meekness. So much of the time culture and the media celebrate assertiveness.
Hunger and Thirst for righteousness
God is the ultimate source of real righteousness. As Christians, we should have an appetite for righteousness and a relationship with Him satisfies that appetite.
Someone who is merciful shows compassion or forgives someone who doesn't deserve it. God is merciful to us; therefore, we should be merciful to our neighbors.
"Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful." - Luke 6:36
Pure in Heart
Being pure in heart means to seek purity in ALL areas of your life (being free of contamination).
Striving to achieve peace with others isn't easy, especially when people have differing views/opinions; however, this is something we should work towards.
How is someone blessed when they receive hostility and ill-treatment because of their faith? While we might not feel blessed at the time, we know there's a great reward for eternity when we follow Christ. We shouldn't be surprised when we are persecuted. John 15 says, "Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." (v 20a)
What are some current blessings in your life? Is there anything on this list that you could start working on going forward?
Salt & Light
In the next section of Matthew 5, two metaphors are used to describe the impact Christians can have on the world around them – being the salt of the earth and light of the world. This isn't the only time salt is used as a metaphor in the Bible. Let's take a look at another place salt is used:
"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." - Colossians 4:6
Salt is used to preserve and to flavor. When used, salt dissolves. Most of the time, when you season something with salt, you don't actually see it. Being the "salt of the earth" is talking more about the inward parts of a Christian – their character.
On the other hand, being the "light of world" is portraying your actions/testimony. Light is something you see, and our goal as Christians should be to "shine" God's light through our everyday actions.
In order to keep this blog from not being too long, I'm not going to go through everything in Matthew 5. However, I do recommend that you read and study the rest of it on your own. An antithesis is a contrast or opposition between two things. In this case, the contrast is between what religious leaders have said and what Jesus said. Starting in Matthew 5:21, it says some reiteration of "You have heard that it was said…" and then Jesus corrects the misunderstandings. Take some time this week to read more on anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and loving your enemies. While this was written over 2 thousand years ago, so much of what is discussed is relevant to our lives today.
Action step: pick 1 or 2 of those areas you want to work on in your life (i.e. love your enemies) and determine a few tangible steps you can take to grow in those areas.
The Sermon on the Mount is filled with so many "golden nuggets" that I won't have time to cover. Next month, I'm going to dive deeper into the rest of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6-7.) Until then, take time on your own to study God's Word and work on your relationship with Him and spreading the Gospel to those around you.
Cornerstone Impact Update
Last week, I attended my first in-person Kingdom Advisors conference with 6 others from SEM. To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement! Almost 2000 Christians in the financial industry gathered together to worship and learn more about incorporating God in our work. While the virtual conference last year was incredible, you can't beat the atmosphere of having everyone together in one room. Our firm's mission shifted after SEM's CIO, Jeff Hybiak attended Kingdom Advisors in 2020. Although we had our Biblically Responsible Investments – Cornerstone Portfolios – before he attended the conference, we shifted our philosophy to having our faith at the forefront of everything we do at SEM after the 2020 conference.
Since this blog is already on the longer-side, I'm not going to share everything that I learned during the conference; however, I do want to share one key theme that I saw throughout every session. Everything you do flows from your heart.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. - Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)
Stay tuned for more content and my takeaways from the Kingdom Advisors conference.
New Cornerstone Shirt
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." - Romans 12:9
We want to continue spreading Biblical messaging to those around us. One way we do this is through our Cornerstone t-shirts. Want a free shirt? We have a new design available in charcoal grey! Fill out the form below and we'll send one to you.