The Beatitudes are sayings of Jesus from the Book of Matthew, that he shared in the Sermon on the Mount. They're often understood as what will happen to people after they die – as if they’re rules on how to live in order to get into heaven. But, in fact, these statements are not meant as rules about living for the future – they are stated in present tense. And, even more important, Jesus is clueing us in on something that can totally change the quality of our lives.
Watch this video...it shares the Beatitudes beautifully.
Jesus is telling us how the experience of an authentic life works right now.
Jesus almost always spoke of rewards and punishments as inherent (or the outcome) to the action itself. He is telling us about how and when we find real happiness – it's the result of living in alignment with God and our true self. This is the kind of happiness that burrows deep into your soul creating the kind of person others want to know – and the kind of person that walks through life knowing who they are.
The characteristics he mentions result in outcomes that make us happy, authentic, and congruent as human beings - these are the qualities that bring us inner happiness and peace - or situations we discover by simply going through it. This is how to walk in alignment with God - our insides match our outsides, our hearts are open and willing. It comes from showing up authentically for life, even when it's not easy.
The fascinating thing about these examples is they're not things we can behave ourselves into! They are more like experiences in the course of life itself - things that happen to us.
Jesus wasn't telling us to live according to a set of rules. Far from it! Instead, he is describing how someone who is fully real, emotionally honest, and genuinely vulnerable and compassionate experiences life. These statements are not about behaving 'right' or being 'right' about something. Sometimes I think of them as clues about how to work on myself - like hints that tell me what areas of my inner life are worth taking a second look at. They help me when I need to take a self-assessment to make changes in my life - like when something is bugging or tugging at me - so I can be the person I want to be - which includes being someone who walks aligned with God.
It's about feeling clear, honest, and strong inside - in a right relationship - that's what sincere, honest, and real ends up looking like to the people around you too.
The Beatitudes are like those garden lights that keep the path lit - because we can't 'do' the beatitudes, we can only learn from them, understand them as the natural order of how life works if we're treating others the way we'd want to be treated - contributing to making, as Jesus prays in the Lord's Prayer - earth as it is in heaven.
It's the opposite of trying to prove ourselves! It's just who you become when you pay attention to being in right relationship. These things just happen!
The outcomes are the natural results of simply living through the circumstances he mentions - with courage, kindness, love, and compassion. It's by keeping the main thing, the main thing. The ego is not in charge - the Spirit is and your heart knows how to hear it. People who are willing to be authentic and not shut down - stay open to God and the Spirit in their lives, keeping them real and teachable.
What’s better? Living the “right way,” or experiencing life as someone who is comfortable in their own skin? What do you think?
The reason this matters is when we’re concerned and focused on how people should act and behave, we are using dominative power that doesn’t serve – you or others. But when we live in an ongoing process of self-renewal, focused on bettering ourselves and being in right relationships - it’s about changing me, not them. This is what grows us into the kind of people most of us hope to be – and keeps the focus where it belongs – on being authentic, congruent, and aligned with God.
Questions for reflection:
What are the qualities he mentions in the video – and what are some words you’d use to describe them in everyday language today? List his words and your examples.
Do you think Jesus was referring to poor people when he says ‘poor’ in spirit? Or something else? Could it mean both?
Why or how do you think someone who is mourning will be comforted? How will the pure in heart see God? Or the innocent who are persecuted – what does he mean when says, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven?”
Why do you think we’re saying this is about living now?