The Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-2 (NLT) says:

One day as He saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up o the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around Him, and He began to teach them.”

Your attitude determines your altitude

If your attitude determines your altitude, will you reach as high as heaven?

The Gospel of Matthew - part 1

What is the Significance of the Beatitudes?

The Beatitudes are an important part of the teachings of Jesus and appears towards the start of His ministry.   It is perhaps surprising that they are only recounted in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark and John.  

One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down.   His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them.

Matthew 5:1-2 (NLT)

Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said …

Luke 6:20 (NLT)

As you read previously in The Armour of God, the attitude of your mind is an important part of your Spiritual armour, and you were encouraged to be zealous in your walk and your work.   You should also be zealous in adopting the attitudes that are blessed by God, so that you will receive God’s blessing in your life and that you will reach heaven one day!

The word beatitude was derived from the original Latin words, beati sunt, which translates to blessed are (Encyclopaedia Britannica).   The original word used in the Greek New Testament was makarios (Wikipedia).

The beatitudes were spoken by Jesus in one of His first public sermons, and is known as the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, or the Sermon on the Plain in Luke.  

Wherever Jesus was – on the mountain or on the plain – it proclaimed and heralded the start of His public preaching and teaching ministry.

Poverty

God blesses those who are poor and realise their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Matthew 5:3 (NLT)

If you don’t like statistics, then skip the next section!   Just take the headline figure that 10% of the world is living in extreme poverty.   This is an improvement over the last 15 years, but it’s still a huge number, and affects people mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.   In the United Kingdom, it is widely accepted that around 20% of people live below the poverty line.

Now, skip to the next section if you don’t want to read more about the statistics!   If you do want to learn more, then read on!

The poorest countries in the world (Concern Worldwide US) are:

  • Mosambique
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Burkina Faso
  • Sierra Leone
  • Burundi
  • Chad
  • South Sudan
  • Central African Republic
  • Niger

Other statistics (focus-economics.com) list the poorest as:

  • DR Congo
  • Mosambique
  • Uganda
  • Tajikistan
  • Yemen
  • Haiti
  • Ethiopia
  • Tanzania
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Uzbekistan

But even in the United Kingdom and the United States there are many who live in poverty and suffer hardship every day.

The United Kingdom is the fourth richest country in the world, following the United States, China and Japan.   The next six are Germany, India, Australia, Canada, France and Italy.   Combined, the ten countries represent 74% of total private wealth worldwide.   Thus nearly three-quarters of the world’s wealth is shared between 5% of the countries in the world, as there are 195 countries in total.   (Other sources state that there are 232 countries in the world – including Vatican City, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, and others which are included as territories belonging to other countries in the 195.   This would mean that 4.3% of the countries in the world would share three-quarters of the world’s wealth.)

Inequality is growing year upon year, and the richest 10% own 85% of all household wealth, and the top 1% own almost half (47%) of the world’s household wealth.   These statistics, and those following, are taken from various online resources, correct in July 2020, including visualcapitalist.com, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, UK government, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, fullfact.org, lifewater.org, and World Vision.

These statistics are shocking when you realise that within those top five countries, the poverty rates are as follows:

Source: Wikipedia

<$1.90

<$3.20

<$5.50

Year

United States

1.2%

1.5%

2%

2016

China

0.5%

5.4%

23.9%

2016

Japan

0.2%

0.5%

1%

2008

United Kingdom

0.2%

0.2%

0.7%

2015

Germany

0

0

0.2%

2015

Comparing poverty levels between countries is difficult, as there are many different ways of looking at poverty.   The table above shows the percentage of people living on different amounts per day – either $1.90, $3.20 or $5.50 a day.   Germany, particularly, seems to be doing quite well.   However, the percentage of people living below each country’s national poverty line are as follows:

  • United States 11.8%
  • China 3.1%
  • Japan 16.1%
  • United Kingdom 15%
  • Germany 16.7%

The poverty line is the minimum level of income deemed adequate in a particular country.   The previous figures use the international poverty line – those in extreme poverty or absolute poverty – living on less than $1.90 a day.   According to the World Bank, the levels of $3.20 a day and $5.50 a day reflects poverty lines in lower-middle-income countries and upper-middle-income-countries respectively.   A higher rate of $21.70 applies to high-income countries, such as the United States.

Measuring and documenting poverty here in the United Kingdom seems to be quite confusing.   There is a vast amount of data, with different measures used to define poverty, making a mountain of facts and figures that merely serve to prove the point the author is trying to make.   And, of course, the same is true in reading this.  

However, there does seem to be a consensus that says that around 20% of the population of the UK are living below the poverty line.   This differs from the 15% in the previous figures but is adjusted to bring into account housing costs.   This represents around 14 million people in the UK, and that figure has changed very little over the last twenty years.

What does Jesus say?

Jesus speaks directly to the poor, but He also speaks to those who can help and bless the poor.

Of course, in His Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes – the attitudes we should adopt – He says directly:

God blesses those who are poor and realise their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

Matthew 5:3 (NLT)

Wow – don’t you want to be poor right now?   Maybe you are poor?   Then the Kingdom of Heaven is yours!   But you realise from this that it’s not just the state of being poor – there’s an ‘and’ in the statement (which is not found in Luke’s version – Luke 6:20).   Jesus says: “and realise their need for him.”   God blesses those who realise their need for Him.

Of course, there is a deeper meaning to all of this.   We are ALL poor.   We are poor in Spirit; we suffer from a lacking in our relationship, a lacking in our understanding, a lacking in our knowing Him.   We don’t know Him well enough; we don’t have a deep understanding of Him, and we don’t have a close enough relationship with Him.   We can’t – because we are flesh and blood, and we have all sinned and done things wrong in our lives.  

But when we realise how poor we are, because of this lack and because of our wrong-doings, we are blessed; because the Kingdom of Heaven is ours.

You will always have the poor among you.

Matthew 26:11 (NLT)

Jesus said that the poor will always be with us.   Does this mean that it’s meaningless to try and help the poor?   After all, if we lift them out of their poverty, they will no longer be blessed!   No, of course not!  

When you put on a luncheon or a banquet … invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

Luke 14:12-13 (NLT)

We should help the poor – and if you remember the commandment to love your neighbour (see the second booklet in the series) you will realise that this is not optional!   Remember?   Your salvation depends on it – are you a sheep or a goat?   (Read Matthew 25:31-46)

Read the booklet below to read more about the Beatitudes, including …

  • Mourning
  • Humility
  • Hunger
  • Mercy
  • The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart
  • Bring peace into the storm
  • Persecution

And – how you are blessed by following the Discipleship Programme (yes, Jesus said so, in so many words …)!

And finally – be happy – how to find happiness in life!

See you soon, Be Blessed.

To read more, click the link below to VIEW RESOURCE. This will take you to an online copy of the booklet that corresponds to this section. You can access this free of charge online.

A pdf copy, which you can download to keep and read offline, is available for all those who sign up as Mercy & Mission Mates for a minimum of £4.32 a month, and anyone can buy extra copies from our website or on Amazon Kindle.

External Resources

Other articles from various sources:

What are the Beatitudes – christianity.com

If you find any resources (or produce any resources) you would like to see here – please let us know.

Ministry Mates

Certificate of Completion

A Certificate of Completion is awarded to those who complete the Discipleship Programme. 

In order to qualify for a certificate, you must answer the questions asked at the end of each module, and send them to us at Misfits Ministries. 

Module 8 Questions

  1. What is your favourite Beatitude?
  2. Why?
  3. How does your attitude determine your altitiude?
  4. Does your altitude need any adjustment?
  5. How will reading this module change your attitude?
Email your answers to disciple@misfitsministries.co.uk. Thank You, see you soon, God Bless.

Chosen Discipleship Groups – Go Deeper

Additional material and resources are available to those who are running Chosen Discipleship Groups to follow the Discipleship Programme.

You might also consider subscribing to the following reading plan on YouVersion prior to discussing this module:

Blessed Are They | Devotional Reading Plan | YouVersion Bible