The Beatitudes: How to Build Momentum in Your Christian Life
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. We can view our progress by looking at our second metaphor—gymnastics rings in a gymnasium. We’ll use this metaphor throughout this study to help us understand the process of spiritual growth.
When you climb the platform, the first ring is within your reach. If you pull it back and swing on it, your momentum will bring you within reach of the second ring, and swinging on the second will bring you within reach of the third. Purity of heart is the sixth ring, and there’s only one way to get there. You have to climb the platform and swing through the first five. The cumulative momentum builds as you swing from one ring to another. That’s the big idea of this session:
There’s an order to the Beatitudes, and each one propels you toward the next.
Try to grasp this simple analogy in your mind. The only way to get to the fifth ring of forgiveness, the sixth ring of purity, or the seventh ring of peace is by means of the rings that come before. You can’t start from the fifth, sixth, or seventh ring. Each has to be reached, and the Beatitudes show you how. Together they’re a road map for progress in your Christian life.
If you’re a believer in Christ but you feel stuck in your Christian life, this study is for you. If you’re battling a compulsive sin or addiction and long to have greater strength in your struggle against temptation, this study is for you. If you have the privilege of mentoring, counseling, or discipling other believers, this study is for you. If you have a great desire for holiness but feel that the progress you’ve made is much shorter than the distance you still have to travel, this study is for you.
Welcome to the gym. The rings are suspended above you. Climb the platform with me, take a firm hold on the first ring, and get ready to swing.
Excerpted from Colin S. Smith, Momentum Bible Study. © 2016 Lifeway Press. Used by permission.
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