“Character, not circumstance, makes the person.” Booker T. Washington
Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ…. (Galatians 6:2, Amplified)
But He said, “Blessed (happy and to be envied) rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey and practice it!” (Luke 11:28, Amplified)
“The beatific character, unattainable by effort, is wrought in the believer by the Spirit.” C. I. Scofield
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Discipleship introduces the Beatitudes by showing the separation that Jesus made between the multitudes and the disciples by presenting the view of the multitudes, the disciples, and by Christ. To set the scene: Jesus as the Rabbi would be seated on a rock with His Twelve seated in a half circle in front of Him. The multitudes would be standing behind the Twelve, listening in uninvited to the Master’s message. In addressing the Beatitudes to the disciples the view of the crowd described by Bonhoeffer is worth reading:
Jesus on the mountain, the crowd, the disciples. The crowd sees: There is Jesus with his disciples, who have joined him. The disciples – not so long before, they themselves were fully a part of the crowd. They were just like all the others. Then Jesus’ call came. So they left everything behind and followed him. Since then they have belonged to Jesus – completely. Now they go with him, live with him, follow him wherever he leads them. Something has happened to them which has not happened to the others. This is an extremely unsettling and offensive fact, which is visibly evident to the crowd. (Emphasis in the original)
If you are a disciple of Christ this message is for you. The Beatitudes are the starting point of discipleship. It is where Jesus the Master Rabbi started with His Twelve Disciples, and it is where He wants to start with you and I
Before anyone builds a structure one needs to have architectural plans, materials and supplies, tools, and skilled labor. Before constructing Christlike character inventory needs to be taken. The pre-construction elements needed for the job should be gathered and be on hand at the construction site. The inventory list can be extracted from the passage in Matthew 5:1-2. The Architect is Jesus Christ (the Author and Finisher of our faith – Hebrews 12:2) and He is about to present His plans to His disciples in Matthew Chapters 5-7. The materials and supplies are the disciples which will be built into men of Christlike character (as a potter shapes a vessel for His use – Romans 9:21). The tools used to shape character will be Kingdom living, lives as presented in the Sermon on the Mount (Sermon). The skilled workers are grace (2 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 3:7; 1 Corinthians 3:10; and 2 Corinthians 12:9) and the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-26; 15:26; 16:13). All these elements are needed in order to construct Christlike, or Kingdom character.
Before architectural plans are drawn many considerations are made from intended use to various building codes. Without taking the numerous variables into account the plans drawn will not a building make that meets its intended purpose, and will not be approved by the building inspectors. In the same way to understand Mathew Chapter Five, and in particular the Beatitudes, perspective is needed and the variables considered. The Holy Spirit works on this construction site as the Inspector, Who helps in this task as every variable is put into place (John 14:26). Any part (or variable) of the Sermon cannot be understood except when it is seen as a part of the whole. The phrase “the whole is more than the sum of its parts” is especially applicable as it relates to the Sermon. The Sermon was given as a single discourse with a singular purpose, and that is how it should be applied – it is one master architectural plan for Christian character. As you should never isolate a portion of Scripture by itself you cannot isolate a portion of the Sermon apart from itself. Keep this foundational thought in mind as we begin the Sermon with poor in spirit. I would encourage you to read through the Sermon (the complete Matthew 5-7 discourse) at one sitting often to take in the “whole” of the passage as we study character building, Christ style.
Read once again the complete Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to see the Sermon as one complete whole before continuing on with this study.