What the righteous life is all about

Matthew 5:1-11

Jerry A Collins




v                 What characterizes righteous people?

v                 What are the ethical guidelines of God’s kingdom?

v                 What does it mean to be ‘blessed’ in God’s kingdom?


A serious pursuit of happiness on this side of the grave, as members of the human race, is a lost cause. That is because happiness here can only be based on our circumstances and these change constantly. We cannot control them. It is an illusive and whimsical pursuit. Happiness is found on a higher level Jesus says. It is like Jesus went into the display windows of life and changed all of the price tags. Happiness according to Jesus does not come from the things you would expect—it is based on a completely new way of life and new way of thinking. Neither of which the world pursues or produces. So if you want what can really touch your soul and fill your life with happiness, then Jesus tells us how to get that. It is delivered to us in the form of beattitudes. They each begin with the word blessed. It can mean happy but so much more than just that. It includes something in the soul that transcends what happens in the world around us. It is living life with a sense of inner joy, contentment, and peace that comes from knowing one is in a right relationship with the Lord. That I am living within the favor of God. It is possible because one’s nature has been changed. With that change of nature comes a change of life and Jesus describes what that life looks like and what it produces.


Analysis We tend to think of the poor primarily in terms of finances or possessions. That is part of it, but there is a spiritual side to it too. The poor had few possessions in Jesus day, were usually oppressed in some way and had little power to change their circumstances and less hope in them. With no resources to fall back on, they had to depend on others for their survival. So the poor in spirit are those who are destitute spiritually. They are people who are humble before God. They have humbled themselves, repented, have come to God as hopeless and helpless sinners. This is a foundational attitude and understanding of a member of God’s kingdom. Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Those who have humbled themselves, and acknowledged they have nothing to contribute have the kingdom of God.

Application Humility is the root of all virtue. This kingdom is entered into this way. It is not by power or ability or merit. It is also living in total dependence upon God. We must realize that our need is total and not partial. We offer nothing.


Analysis Mourning indicates the pain and grief and the anxieties of the soul over some loss. People mourn over any disaster and look for hope at the same time. God and Jesus mourned for Israel because of her sin. So the mourning here is for the sinfulness that causes suffering and sadness in life. These understand that their grieving is ultimately for a world lost and ruined by sin. Yet, the promise is a grieving that is comforted—that grieving is only for a time. One day it will all be changed and that hope brings comfort not distress.

Application Be increasingly sensitive to your own sin. Then come to God daily on your knees in deep remorse, confessing your sin. They live from a vertical perspective. There is nothing causing a problem with God in their lives. Mourn as a faithful disciple.   


Analysis Meek is used of soothing medicine, a soft breeze and even a domesticated animal. The idea is controlled strength—a gentleness with strength behind it—not weakness. They do not exploit others even if power to do so. No vengeance or vendettas. They are able to champion the cause of the weak and oppressed even tho gentle and humble. Meekness reveals itself not when we are wrong but when we are right and have power to hurt one who is wrong (Abe giving choice, David killing Saul, Joseph, revenge). From worlds view this is first step to failure. When Saul was little, God made him great, When he made himself great, God made him nothing. When meek you seek nothing for yourself. How did they become meek: 1 Faith 2 Obedience 3 Faithfulness to their calling. 4 Committed to sovereign control of God over their circumstances and lives. 5. They all had beatitude #4. The promise is possession of the land. Possessing the land signified much more—a sense of place, security, inheritance from God.

Application Put God in control of your strengths, that is, practice meekness. The fruit of Spirit is gentleness & meekness. These are produced in us when filled by HS.


Analysis Hunger and thirst constantly cry out for satisfaction—a basic human drive. Here the image is a constant and strong desire to do the will of God. A strong desire to please God—do what He wants. This desire will be filled. This happens in stages as we yield our members as instruments of righteousness. It takes place over time as we pursue in greater measure what God wants us to have.

Application How do we create a hunger for righteousness? As believers we have a desire for both sin an righteousness and we can sabotage ourselves. We will not create a desire for righteousness unless we can admire an example. That is what Christ was. So, too Paul. Give yourself and others the best opportunity you can to change their hunger to righteousness. Be around people who also desire that. Avoid people who don’t.  


Analysis One thing common with the poor, meek, hungry is that their lives not self sufficient but looks outward for help. They understand mercy since they know their own inadequacies, their dependence, weaknesses. When shown God’s bounty personally, they in turn show mercy to others. Mercy is unmerited non-punishment. Mercy gives instead or bringing about an eye for an eye. It suspends justice. So the merciful have promise of receiving mercy themselves. Not from men but from God.

Application Have a good understanding of God’s grace. This will allow you to show mercy when you are wronged, ie., don’t pursue justice when you are wronged.


Analysis Pure here is clean in heart—clean motives like David in Psa 51:10. The promise is they will see God by faith in the events and circumstances of life. Later in heaven, God is visible to us fully.

Application The problem of sin is not primarily the world around us but the worldliness within us. It is an inside problem. So conform yourself and your actions to God’s Word. Make that your standard. Be perfect as God is perfect 5:48. You cannot know your motives but you can change your actions. Conform these to the standard of God’s Word.


Analysis The whole plan of redemption is to provide peace with God for those formerly alienated. But in human race there is strife with little hope of peace. Peace begins with reconciliation with God and extends to others. Peacemakers understand this—seeking spiritual peace. Peacemaking is not compromising with evil. It is not peace by tolerating sin. It is peace that may first require going to war with sin—the struggle of Rom 7.

Application Be a peacemaker, not by tolerating or overlooking sin but by helping people expose it and then deal with it from God’s point of view. Promote peace by spreading the gospel.


Analysis This final one includes vs 10-12. If you are not being shot at, perhaps you are not in the battle. Anyone ticked off at your righteous stand? Don’t seek persecution but pursue righteousness of the kingdom—you will get persecution. One would think that such a life would attract people to the kingdom. But wanting things on their own terms, you will be seen as only in their way. So did John the Baptist—so did Jesus.

Application Be sufficiently outspoken for the ways of God, knowing it will bring about criticism from the ungodly. If you think opposite of world then you are closer to way God thinks.

(1) Orient your thinking so that you pursue kingdom living every day.

(2) Make your standard the Word of God and evaluate your life from that only.

(3) Determine to want what God wants.