As we saw in last weeks message (Blessings and Woes), the beatitudes are the essential characteristics of a Christian. Ever living thing has characteristics that distinguish it from other creatures. Physical beings have physical traits. Birds have wings and feathers and fish have fins and gills. Likewise, spiritual creatures have spiritual characteristics. The characteristics of Christians according the Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6 are:
- Poverty of Spirit
- Hunger for Righteousness
- Weeping over Sin
- Animosity from the World
Every creature’s characteristics produce certain behaviors. The characteristics of a fish result in it living and swimming in the water. The characteristics of a Christian also produce behaviors.
Jesus told us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who abuse us. These are commands that apply to every Christian. And they are also natural and necessary behaviors that result from the essential characteristics of a Christian.
Examples and Illustrations
In order to better illustrate for us what it means to love our enemies, Jesus offered four examples of what that might look like in specific circumstances. These were not meant to be taken as a new law, but rather as specific applications of the love that the beatitudes produce in our lives.
The sermon digs into each one of these examples.