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Beauty in the Beatitudes

“For God is not a God of disorder…” 1 Cor 14:33

First things first. What is the chief and highest end of man? Let the revered Christian Book namely the Westminster catechism give the answer. Man's chief and highest end is to glorify (worship) God, and fully to enjoy him forever. When it comes to glorifying Him and fully enjoying Him, let it be said that the entire exercise ought to be “absolutely genuine emanating right from the innermost core of one’s being (read spirit)”. This would lead to the next question, how could the process of glorifying Him originate right from the depths of one’s heart? It is only possible, when a person is truly fascinated by His unique traits. Remember, worshipping God for WHAT HE IS, is the highest form of worship, standing head and shoulders above other forms of worship, which come with strings attached, such as worshipping Him for the blessings, He showers upon us. While on the subject, at this stage, it would serve us well to look at the synonym of the word “Glorify”, which is “Magnify”. When, one magnifies Him, that is to say, when one keenly observes His Divine nature, with a magnifying glass, as it were, the “spiritual explorer” (if you permit me to use this expression) in you is bound to come across several unique attributes of the Almighty, which would evoke awe, and in turn lead to spontaneous, heart-felt worship and praise.

In this essay punctuated with…what else… “Hallelujahs” (incidentally Hallel in Hebrew language means To praise and Yah means God) I would like to bring before my readership, one definite attribute in the Almighty, which at once evokes awe in me that is …He is (as the above-captioned Scripture emphasizes) a GOD OF ORDER. There is perfect order, in whatever He does. Period. One may well say that His signature of orderliness is seen vividly in all of His physical creation and to the keen observer, perfect order would be perceptible in the spiritual realm too. Firstly, let us focus upon our Planet, as one entity. There is a distinct orderliness about it in all areas’ especially in matters such as its distance from its “heating system” …the Sun, isn’t it? If it were a lit bit closer, we would all be fried to death and a little further away and we would all freeze. Right? Do not get your thinking marred by imagining about possibility of life in Mars. Nothing quite like our good ole’ Earth, when it comes to sustaining life. Look at the “reverse breathing order” of human and plant life, and we find one more reason to spontaneously praise Him. What we inhale, the plants exhale and vice versa! Is this breathing pattern a result of some bizarre cosmic accident? NO WAY!

Now let us come to the spiritual realm. Let us look at the classification of the Scriptures and at once, we see Divine order in operation. The Old Testament Books (before the advent of Christ) have been classified into three categories using the following criteria
  1. History – From the Book of Genesis to the Book of Esther
  2. Poetry – From the Book of Job to the Book of Song of Solomon
  3. Prophecy- From the Book of Isaiah to the Book of Malachi
The New Testament Scriptures have also been categorized–generally speaking-into 3 sections based on the following time-related yardsticks
  1. Past- The four Gospels (redemption work has been completed)
  2. Present – From the Book of Acts to the Epistle of Jude (symbolizing the age of Grace, following the atoning work of Christ on the Cross)
  3. Future- The Book of Revelation
Amazing, isn’t it?

Sublimation before action…

Now let us come to the Sermon on the Mount delivered by our Lord, which is the cornerstone of Christian faith and what do we see? There too, we see a wonderful pattern in operation. Ever wondered, why the good Lord spoke about the beatitudes FIRST (the word Beatitude incidentally means supreme blessedness) and then only about several DOs’ and DONTs’ in His illustrious message, which span Chapters 5 to 7 of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. As it were, the entire Sermon on the Mount can be divided into 2 parts. The weightier beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12) followed by how we need to go about “fleshing out the Christian faith” (Matt 5:13-7:28). As the beatitudes focus upon the inward transformation to start with, our Lord was obviously more interested “in what we BECOME FIRST, rather than in what we DO”- sublimation before action for you, please! Is it not a fact of life that doing or not doing anything depends on WHAT WE ARE IN THE FIRST PLACE? Underscoring this truth, one Biblical scholar put it creatively when he said, “For this purpose, we are called Human BEIGNS and not Human DOINGS”!

Now, if I were to say that even in the beatitudes, there is a beautiful order portraying “gradual evolution of a Christian life” and that they are actually inter-connected, would you mouth a loud HALLELUJAH? YES, THEY ARE, SO YOU BETTER DO! Ever wondered, why the good Lord placed the beatitude about persecution at the very end? To arrive at the answer, we need to ask ourselves, this question. WHEN DOES A CHRISTIAN GET PERSECUTED? Beginning here are questions and answers arrayed backwards, which would lead to the first beatitude. A Christian gets persecuted, only when He stands up for His Saviour or only when he works for Him. When would he do that? ONLY, WHEN HE HAS A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM! AND WHEN DOES THAT RELATIONSHIP BEGIN? ONLY WHEN HE POOR IN SPIRIT SEEKS THE SAVIOUR! Oh boy, oh boy…simply amazing is the perfect order in the beatitudes. HALLELUJAH!


Blessed are poor in spirit… - Matt 5:3

Now focusing upon the Beatitudes one by one, I reiterate blessed indeed are the poor in spirit, who realize that they are sinners to the core- spiritually impoverished-as such, in dire need of a Saviour! That is exactly where, the Christian life with a born again experience begins, when a person convicted of his/her sins turns his life over into the waiting arms of the merciful Redeemer, who in turn receives him warmly, registering in the process the erstwhile sinner’s name in the Book of life (Rev 20:12). Examine once again the words of our Lord in this context. Man being comprised of three parts (body, soul and spirit- I Thess 5:23), our Lord doesn’t call a person who is “poor in body or soul” as blessed, for they do not constitute the REAL PERSON but reserves the exalted blessing only to those, who are convicted where it really matters…deep down in spirit, which constitutes innermost core of one’s being!


Blessed are those, who mourn…-Matt 5:4

What is the natural response of a person deeply convicted in spirit? We do not need to go any farther than the account about the repentant “sinful” tax collector and proud “righteous” Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14) to get the answer? The contrite individual is “bound to mourn”, shed copious tears, as it were, like the penitent Tax collector in the story before us. So no wonder, the second beatitude follows in perfect logical order “Blessed are those who mourn”. Amazing isn’t it? Say Hallelujah! Permit me to add here, everyone without any exception needs to turn with a penitent heart to the Saviour, for the Scripture declares that all of us ARE SINNERS (Romans 3:23) and not only those with a police record! Is there an “empirical formula” to discern for ourselves that we are all sinners? Let us visit Garden of Eden before the FALL and what do we see? Adam and Eve clothed in pristine holiness, going about like innocent little children (who do not bother about clothing), without even physically clothing themselves. The need for “covering their shame”, so to say, came about only after the fall. If we are all clothing ourselves physically, is that not a proof in itself about our innate fallen condition inherited “genetically” from our earthly ancestor Adam (Romans 5:12)? Even a hard-core atheist won’t walk about naked in the streets in defiance of what is written in the Bible vis-à-vis clothing in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7)?

I reiterate “Blessed” indeed are those who mourn in realization of their spiritual poverty for then the just God “clears their record” on the basis of Christ’s atoning work on the cross (Colossians 1:20-22 NLV) and in turn places His own “comforting” Holy Spirit (John 15:26-AB) in them, sealing them so to speak, as His own children (Eph 1:13/ Romans 8:15)! Now giving of “a new life” (read salvation) is a one to one transaction between the Redeemer and a repentant sinner, that is why God the giver of spiritual life (John 1:12) is addressed by Christians as “Father” and not Great (to the power of infinity) Grandfather, on the basis of His original creation of man.


Blessed are those, who are meek …Matt 5:5

When the Holy Spirit comes into the heart of the believer, at the point of regeneration, He brings along with Him, “HIS FRUIT” (Gal 5:22,23-KJV), which amongst others’ includes meekness. Let it be said here that while gifts of the Holy Spirit are different and that all the gifts may not be given to everyone (I Cor 12:27-30), the fruit of the Holy Spirit is universal in nature and is given to every Christian, without any exception. A forgiven sinner, at this stage has meekness overflowing in his heart, as the magnitude of his enormous debt to his Redeemer registers on his mind. Oh the gracious, merciful God of mine has forgiven ALL of my sins… is the line, that would be playing on his mind again and again, even as he starts taking baby steps in his new way of life, with a heart full of meekness borne of gratitude. Since the Holy Spirit is “his coach” now in the matter of Holy living, he submits himself meekly and fully to the guidance of the Divine coach.


Blessed are those, who hunger and thirst for righteousness… Matt 5:5

It is said of repentance “ it makes a person allergic to what he was addicted, and addicted to what he was allergic”. All along before the redemption experience, a sinner as is his wont would have shunned Church-going, praying, Bible reading, attending cottage prayer meetings and a host of other Christian activities, now these are the very activities, which would appeal to him, as nutritious milk would to a growing infant (1 Peter 2:2-3) even as he immerses himself in them. All these would contribute to his growth process- the divine transformation into Christ-likeness (II Cor 3:18/ 2 Peter 1:5-7)! Say growing Christian, have you whetted your spiritual appetite in the presence of the Lord today?


Blessed are the merciful…Matt 5:7

Now a growing Christian drinking deeply from the fount of Holy joy (John 4:13-14) would look with mercy at the unrepentant souls, who are trekking towards a Christ less eternity. Not for him a holier than thou attitude whilst introducing Christ to them (1 Peter 3:15), for he knows too well, what kind of a sinner, he himself had been, before his regeneration. Now no Christian experiencing the joys of his new life would whine at the task of winning souls for his Lord, for talking about the saving grace of his Saviour would come as naturally to him, as speaking about a doctor who has cured him of a life-threatening disease. Honestly, you do not need a push to talk about your Road to Damascus experience. Ask Paul…


Blessed are the pure in heart …Matt 5:8

With passage of time, as the Holy Spirit, the Master sculptor keeps chiseling away at the rough edges in a Christian’s character, the latter becomes more and more Christ-like, with the purity of his heart being reflected in the radiance of his countenance. This purity, which is imparted in this side of eternity, would become intrinsic on the day of ethereal wedding (I John 3:2 /Rev 19:7-8). With steady upward progress in sacrificial, holy living, a Christian in due course of time, gets recognized in the society for his godliness and trust-worthiness that comes along with it. Now this, more than anything else, qualifies him to be the perfect peacemaker!


Blessed are the peacemakers…Matt 5:9

There is an insightful saying that “the rich are respected, the strong are feared, the intelligent are admired but it is only the godly, who are trusted”.

Now there are 2 dimensions to the concept of “peacemaking”. One is of a socio-spiritual type, where a mature Christian’s counsel is sought by troubled individuals, families and even some welfare societies plagued by troubles arising from mutual distrust and discord. Now would they confide their problems to a passer-by on the road? NAY! But only to a godly, reliable, wise, sympathetic and empathetic individual, that an erstwhile sinner has now become…remember it all began when he poor in spirit sought the Saviour!

The second type of “peace-making” is an unalloyed spiritual one, when a Christian donning the robes of an evangelist brings “peace between holy God and unholy sinners” by sharing the Gospel with the latter. Now would sinners, listen to a man preaching the Gospel, when he doesn’t walk his talk? NO WAY! But they would lend an hearing ear only to a person, whose exemplary life does the preaching before his mouth does… whose heart is pure…! So once again, it all goes back to the that first step of faith…this sinner turned saint had taken, when he poor in spirit sought the Saviour…all those years back! Amazing, isn’t it? HALLELUJAH!


Blessed are those, who are persecuted- Matt 5:10-12

Hey, someone is bound to get alarmed and terribly upset when a Christian grabs a sinner from the realm of darkness and brings him into light! Satan, our ole’ enemy, also described fittingly as a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8) IS THAT SOMEONE! David the Shepherd testified as to the lion’s habit of turning upon the rescuers of sheep, when they pull the sheep out of its murderous jaws (I Sam 17:34-35). NO WONDER, WHEN A CHRISTIAN GOES ABOUT EARNESTLY IN WINNING SOULS FOR THE LORD, GRABBING “SHEEP FROM THE MOUTH OF A LION” PERSECUTION IS BOUND TO FOLLOW, AS NIGHT FOLLOWS DAY! It may even result in martyrdom but take heart, no Christian shall die, before his God-ordained work is completed in this World (John 8:20). Amazing thing about those who have suffered for the Lord and the martyrs is that they continue to inspire long after they expire. Is not the good Lord still using the lives of His faithful servants and martyrs’ such as John, Peter and Paul, to inspire us even today?

Accept Martyrdom and the Crown that comes with it (Rev 2:10), should the opportunity come your way of making the supreme sacrifice. Meanwhile, be orderly in serving the orderly God! Now isn’t there unmistakable beauty in the order of the beatitudes? THERE IS! Finally, it is only in order that theology should always end with doxology! HALLELUJAH!

(Suresh Manoharan)