If you had to live with someone just like yourself for the rest of your life, would you look forward to the opportunity, or are you already dreading the thought?
As we consider this, we are questioning our character. Character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. It is descriptive of who a person is and how they think. Therefore, character and values will eventually reveal themselves in actions.
When reading the Beatitudes, found in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us a glimpse of the character of kingdom subjects. In this sermon, Christians are encouraged to display godly characteristics that are unique to those who are part of the kingdom of heaven. The promise that accompanies this challenge is true joy or blessing. The very word blessed means to be happy or fortunate.
We must remember that both the character and the blessings, presented by Jesus, are different than what the world may expect. This is because the kingdom of heaven is different in many ways from the kingdoms of the world. That idea becomes apparent when reading the list of beatitudes found in Matthew 5:3-11. For instance, Jesus says, “Blessed is the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” These words seem to clash with one another as we read them aloud. To find blessing thought poverty is not the way of the world. Still, it was the character of our king.
The first four beatitudes are vertical in nature and descriptive of the type of character needed to approach God. He is the almighty for whom all creation bows down. Therefore, we approach his throne poor in spirit, mourning, meek, and hungry for righteousness. Christians are encouraged to be aware that they are spiritually bankrupt and dependent on the blood of Christ to pay their debt. We stand before him with deep sorrow and humility understanding that, on our own, we are undeserving to be there. We can enter only because of his righteousness, not our own, and this causes us to hunger and thirst for more. Those who come before God displaying these characteristics will be satisfied.
The next three beatitudes are horizontal in nature and descriptive of the type of character Christians are to display when dealing with others. We are ambassadors of Christ our king in a world of hostility. Therefore, we live mercifully, pure in heart, and as peacemakers. We are those who know what it is to be shown mercy through the cross. Therefore, we are to display that mercy in our dealings with people. We are told to do this with genuineness. Jesus would often critique those who would pretend piousness and call them hypocrites. For those he critiqued, faith was an act, and the world was their stage. However, for the kingdom subject, the character displayed on the outside must be consistent with what is inside our hearts. As ambassadors of the kingdom, we are committed to the message of reconciliation. This should cause us to seek peace with others. When a Christian is engaged in worldly fighting it is often because they have aligned themselves with the wrong kingdom. To those who live out these beatitudes, demonstrating love, they show themselves as children of God.
The beatitudes conclude with a blessing to those who are persecuted because of righteousness. Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. It seems clear that the blessings associated with these values do not necessarily lead to an easy life. However, when we live embodying them we are blessed because we are comforted, filled, shown mercy, and stand before God as his children. Christians today would do well by asking themselves if they display the character of a kingdom subject. In doing so they will stand before God with confidence.