The beatitude describe people who have saving faith and will inherit a place in the kingdom of God. Upon conversion, we don’t start perfectly, courageously and consistently displaying all these qualities of poor in spirit, meek, mourning and so forth. Rather as we grow in faith, we grow in these qualities.
People marked by the being poor in spirit, mourning over sin, hungering for righteousness, pursuing peace and mercy, etc. will draw the hostility of the world, but they will be rewarded with eternal life in the kingdom of God. We, his disciples, are not to shrink from following Jesus for fear that the world might hate us. We are to follow him, even though that invites mocking, scoffing and persecution.
Like the merciful, those commit the costly act of refusing to answer injury for injury and seeking a peaceful reconciliation instead will find their inheritance as children of God in the kingdom of heaven. When we realize how deeply we ourselves are indebted to God’s grace and dependent on His mercy, we also realize we’re in no position to condemn the sins of others.
The pure in heart are not those who are morally perfect. Rather their hearts have been cleansed of rebellion and rejection of God. The pure in heart live like the gospel is true, though not perfectly. One day they will stand before God and be accepted.
Only those will to commit the costly act of being merciful will receive mercy in the kingdom of God, because showing mercy is an implication of having saving faith.
When you’re physically hungry, the desire to eat is so overwhelming you can hardly think about anything else. Jesus is counting on that experience in this beatitude. The truly fortunate ones long for that which is missing in this life which only the kingdom of God can fulfill: holiness.
While Matthew 5:5 is probably the most famous beatitude, not many people understand what it means. Jesus does not explain what he means by “meek”, but he is quoting Psalm 37 which gives us a very big clue.
Mourning is the appropriate emotional response to being poor in spirit. When you realize that life is not what it should be and you are not the kind of person you should be, the appropriate response is to weep over it.
Unlike those who are self-satisfied and see themselves as spiritually rich, the poor in spirit know that they are morally bankrupt and nothing in this world can give them what they truly need. This knowledge is a core conviction of saving faith.
Before we look at the beatitudes, we need to understand what it means to be blessed, the nature of a beatitudes (Jesus wasn’t the first to employ them) and how Jesus expects us to understand them.