Does God require us to learn to humble and die to ourselves so that He may be exalted and glorified more?

by Paul Yeung

For most people, when they hear of the Beatitudes, they would feel a sense of distance, as though it were a standard that is unreachable or unrealistic. We may even feel that by urging us to live out the spirit of the Beatitudes, Jesus is being unreasonable and mean.

As a matter of fact, Jesus' approach (the way of the Beatitudes) right at the beginning of His public ministry makes no sense, or even dumb if judged from the perspective of modern marketing strategies. The way the Beatitudes were presented was unattractive. It threw people off by proposing such a radical way of life. Then why did Jesus give such an “unreasonable” teaching? What was his motivation?

Apparently, Jesus wanted to make the core values of His teachings crystal clear at the outset. He did not want to use misleading methods to attract people to Himself. Rather He wanted people to fully understand what He represented lest they would regret in the future and feel being cheated. Because our God is a faithful God who walks His talks, so when Jesus lived according to the spirit of the Beatitudes, His way of life revealed and manifested God's true image and nature. By the same token, what Jesus taught us through the Beatitudes not only revealed God's nature, but also foretold what would happen to Him and to His followers.

Therefore, everything discussed in the Beatitudes is not merely teachings, but also the attitude and direction which all genuine Christians must live out in their daily lives. We may even say that the Beatitudes is the best pathway to follow Jesus and a shortcut to holiness!

"Humility" is a core virtue in the Beatitudes. The words and deeds of Jesus, from the moment when God became man (Word made flesh) until Jesus gave up His life to die for us on the cross, the whole life of Jesus manifested the humble nature of God. Therefore, we must understand that God does not ask us to be humble with the intention that He be lifted up higher to be more glorified. If our Lord Jesus humbled Himself to the point of laying down His life for us on the Cross, is there any reason that we, as His followers and disciples, do not follow suit?

In fact, Christ on the Cross and His teachings in the Beatitudes make present “Kingdom of God" on earth, and it is in the same spirit that Jesus taught us in praying the Father: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Beatitudes are not unattainable standards, unreasonable demands of God, privileges of the saints, unrealistic ideals that can only be found in the utopia of fairy tales, but can truly be realized. The reason is that we are created in the image of God. If the core values of the Beatitudes are God's very nature, it should also be part of our nature. Only that we are under the yoke of our own concupiscence, and the worldly desires have enslaved and chained us, thus distorting our true image. Having said that, understandably the Beatitudes are not easy to live out. It requires us to dedicate our entire lives to practise, to perfect and to persevere.

Being a shortcut to holiness, the Beatitudes certainly is also our way to heaven and the secret to learning the perfect love of God. It requires us to keep practicing and strive to live them out our entire life. Since this is something we need to spend our whole life learning and to perfect, it is also necessary for us to give it a head start. We should not be afraid to enter the starting line for living out the Beatitudes.

The journey ahead is not about speed or ability, but endurance rooted in our love and faithfulness to God. In the end, it is about how much we desire to resemble God and the image in which He created us! Let us be companions on this journey! Bon voyage!