Growing in Peace and Self Control
The Beatitudes and the Fruit of the Spirit.
"Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The nine Beatitudes, found in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 5, verses 3 to 12), are a collection of Jesus' moral teachings and served as an introduction to His Sermon on the Mount. Basically, Jesus outlined in the Beatitudes the process involved in the development of a Christ-like character. Unfortunately many of our biblical translations do not adequately convey his teachings.
For instance, when we read in Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall receive comfort (be comforted)", when we go back to the original Greek, the actual meaning is, "Blessed are those who mourn over their sins, for they shall receive the Comforter", referring to the (baptism of the) Holy Spirit, who is the "Comforter".
Each of the Beatitudes is actually a stage of growth in the Christian life. Through them, we are taken right through from salvation to the baptism of the Holy Spirit - both leading ultimately to one's peace and self-control. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
The King James Version translates the third Beatitude as,”Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The original meaning of the word that was translated as "meek" refers to a person who comes under perfect control of the Holy Spirit. One who is teachable in all things and will act on command when directed by the Lord to do something. This obedience results in moulding one's character into conformity with the character ‘of Christ, the full embodiment of the fruit of the Spirit.
In similar fashion, the remaining Beatitudes act as a framework for the development of the fruit of the Spirit within the life of a believer.
The greatest change that I discovered in the early days of my own faith was the joy and happiness that replaced my anger. Over and over again I've been criticized for being phoney. People often say, "No one can be that happy!" And then they proceed to ask my wife Ruth if that is what I'm really like at home as well.
She just laughs and says, "What you see is what you get; it's real!" This kind of happiness (joy of the spirit), isn't something that can be faked or contrived; it's the result of receiving the Holy Spirit and being transformed from inside out.
Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:23-24, that we are to be "renewed in the spirit of our minds", and to put on the "new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness."
No matter what provision the Lord makes for the transformation of our character, we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit to be successful. He is a gentleman; never forcing or pushing us to grow faster than we permit ourselves.
When we "walk in the (Holy) Spirit" daily; and pray in the Spirit (tongues) and listen for His voice, He reveals His plan for our lives. In faith, and with our cooperation, the Holy Spirit guides us; transforming the way we think, act and feel.
"Pray in the (Holy) Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere" (Ephesians 6:18).
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27).
The fruit of the Spirit allows others to experience the love of Jesus through us. It gives credibility to our ministry that we carry out His name - "in the name of Jesus".
Through the nine characteristics, we become Christ's representatives and ambassadors to many.
"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:20)
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