How to Read the Beatitudes
The most popular beatitudes in Scripture are found in Matthew chapter 5. Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with 8 amazing statements that are both beautiful and shocking. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help increase your understanding.
The beatitudes are simple, reducing life to a cause-and-effect formula. “Blessed is the person who X, because Y.” Simplicity is powerful because it leads to clarity. Life can be confusing, overwhelming, and difficult. Sometimes, things really are “complicated.” Clarity allows us to move forward, even when we are paralyzed with indecision.
Even in their simplicity, the beatitudes can be contradictory. How can the poor in spirit, possess the kingdom? To be poor is to be without possessions. How can the meek inherit the earth? Meek is the opposite of aggression and ambition. Contradiction is powerful because it challenges our assumptions, transforming our thoughts to be more like Jesus.
The beatitudes are internal, they seek to change the deepest parts of our identity. More than external changes, they call for transformation from the inside out. The beauty of internal change is that it is universal, anyone can change … at any time. The beatitudes are for all people in every season of their lives. If you are from God, look to beatitudes to light your path back home.
The next time you read the beatitudes, do so slowly and with great care. Take time to discover their simplicity, contradiction, and internal challenges.