Attitude Determines Action

Attitude Determines Action  -  Matthew 5:1-12
This lesson deals with quality of life as described by Jesus in the Beatitudes or foundational qualities of the blessed Christian life.
The way we look at ourselves and life around us, shapes our actions. Jesus explained at the core of who we are, we have a set of attitudes that shape the way we look at everything.
Matthew 5:1-2  -  Sermon on the Mount
Where? The sermon occurred on an unknown mountain in Galilee.
To whom? To his disciples – they came to Him for instruction. Those who were already committed to Him.
By whom? Jesus is the teacher.
Jesus highlighted eight qualities or character traits and said that people who possess these are blessed.
These traits are not ordinarily thought of as positive or desirable. In fact, many scorn these virtues as signs of weakness.
Jesus was not teaching that people can earn a place in heaven by trying to live the Beatitudes. Instead, He was teaching disciples (those already saved by faith) that God desires these godly qualities in their lives. Our responsibility is to focus on growing in these qualities.
Live Life Upside Down  -  Matthew 5:3-10
Poor in spirit. It means we recognize we have nothing to offer God that merits His favor. We depend on His mercy every day.
The reward - the kingdom of heaven is theirs. This means they experience God's rule through Jesus. (The kingdom is the rule or reign of God.) All who come to the Messiah in humble faith, He welcomes as citizens of His heavenly realm.
Mourn - the proper attitude of people who recognize their spiritual poverty. To repent means to be sorrowful over one's sins and to turn away from them. He meant we are not careless about sin. One reason we mourn over our sins and those of others is we realize how destructive sin is. It shatters lives and relationships. The reward - they will be comforted. He will forgive their sins and begin the process of putting their lives back together.
Gentle - Being gentle or humble doesn't mean a person shrinks in reaction to opposition or allows others to walk on him. The gentleness that Jesus teaches is strength that is controlled for the wellbeing of self and the good of others. Traditionally translated "meek," this term refers to being patient and submissive during a time of suffering or difficulty. Reward - they will inherit the earth.
Hunger and thirst for righteousness. People of Jesus' day did not take food and water for granted.  Many lived day to day in survival mode. They had known the gnawing agony of real hunger and thirst. When one is truly hungry, the thought of food is consuming.
Jesus used these descriptions of hunger and thirst to describe how deeply we should be striving for righteousness. God's children are to long to be more and more like their righteous Father. The reward - They will be filled. A direct connection is found between the pursuit of holiness and the way holiness grows in our lives. There are no accidental saints. Unless we really want to become holy in our daily lives, it won't happen.
Merciful - There are two parts of mercy: forgiveness for the guilty and kindness to the needy.  Because God is merciful to sinners, believers should also be merciful in forgiving those who hurt us. Because God helps the needy, we should also show mercy by helping the needy. The strong are to be merciful to the weak; the rich must be kind to the poor; insiders are to be considerate of outsiders; the "haves" must reach out to the "have nots." Above all mercy is shown when God (or we) forgive offenses (Ex. 34:6-7).
The reward - They will be shown mercy. Sometimes those who've been merciful receive mercy back from fellow humans when they need it. But primarily Jesus meant that God will show them mercy at the judgment.
Pure in heart - The heart is the core of a person. The Greek word translated pure is often translated clean (as in John 13:10-11). Those truly cleansed seek to live lives wholly devoted to God rather than to be double-minded.
The reward - will see God. One day we will see God face to face. In the last chapter of the Bible, the glory of heaven is summarized simply: "His servants will serve Him. They will see His face" (Rev. 22:3-4).
Peacemakers - The characteristics of a peacemaker include reconciling sinners separated from God, promoting oneness among believers, praying, and promoting peace in all relationships.The reward - They will be called sons of God.
Persecuted - Jesus knew that His disciples would face persecution in the future. He wanted them to know that being persecuted for the sake of Christ was a blessed condition. This promise was not only for that small band of disciples sitting around Him; it was for every believer that would choose Christ over the world.
Look at the eight godly qualities Jesus describes. If you were given a letter grade for how evident each of the qualities is in your life, what would it be?
Characteristics such as being poor in spirit, gentle, righteous, merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers are seen as backwards or upside down to a progressive society.
Suffer for Godliness  -  Matthew 5:11-12
Insult, persecute, falsely say every kind of evil against you. Receiving verbal attacks is never pleasant.
As believers, we must be certain we are people of integrity. The insults Jesus spoke of are those that come because of Him not because we got caught doing something in contradiction to Him.
Jesus reminded His disciples the heroes of faith in the Old Testament were persecuted before them.
Being blessed isn’t a result with external comfort or happiness. We can be glad. This command is related to a Greek noun often translated "joy." Why? Your reward is great in heaven. Citizens of heaven's kingdom are willing to wait until heaven to receive the full benefits Jesus promised.
In Conclusion:
What do you consider a blessed life?
Which quality is the most difficult for you to practice?
Which quality is the most important to you?
Which quality do you think the world values least?
If you consider life a daily race or contest, and you could receive an unseen gold medal at the end of each day's contest, are you wearing a medal today based on how well you lived life yesterday?
Think back to this week; evaluate how well you did in running the race of the Christian life with emphasis on your strongest and weakest qualities.
Jesus’ message is not as much about “looking” different as it is about a way of life that resembles the heart of God.