The Way to Move Forward
We all want to make progress in our Christian lives, but it’s easy to get sidetracked and stuck as we follow God’s call. We settle for what we have, and we give up on moving forward in our spiritual lives. Everyone wants to be blessed, but how do we move forward to receive more of God’s blessings? No one knows where blessing is to be found more than Jesus Christ, and so when He speaks about blessing, as He does in the Beatitudes (see Matt. 5:1-12), I want to listen, and so should you.
There’s a definite order in the Beatitudes, and each one flows from the others that went before. Two metaphors illustrate this process. The first illustrates the stages of growth of a plant.
You’ll find that the first three Beatitudes deal with our need. We’re poor in spirit (see v. 3) because we don’t have what it takes to live as God commands. We mourn (see v. 4) because our sins are many. We become meek rather than self-willed and defiant (see v. 5) because we don’t have the ability to direct our own lives wisely. These are the roots of a blessed and godly life.
Out of these roots come the shoots of the Fourth Beatitude, a hunger and thirst for righteousness (see v. 6). God uses the root of recognizing your spiritual need to produce the shoot of a deep longing to grow in righteousness. Then, when the roots of the first three Beatitudes are nourished, a great desire for righteousness springs up in your life.
Continuing the metaphor, the roots produce shoots, and the shoots bear fruit. The fruit of this blessed and godly life is, first, mercy or forgiveness (see v. 7), then purity (see v. 8), and finally peace (see v. 9).
Our Lord also gave us an Eighth Beatitude: “Blessed are those who are persecuted” (v. 10). This one is different from the rest because the others all reflect character that God’s people are to actively pursue. Persecution is different. We aren’t to pursue it, but we’re to understand that when we seek the blessed, godly life that Jesus lays out for us in the Beatitudes, persecution will pursue us. Those who are blessed by God will be persecuted in this world.
The order of the Beatitudes shows us how to make progress in the Christian life. There’s an order to the Beatitudes, and each one propels you toward the next.