D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said of the Beatitudes “All Christians are to be like this” and “All Christians are meant to manifest all of these characteristics”. While the extent of each one in our lives might differ, the focus is always on character first before content. They are not only for specially trained or specially gifted people “in the business of religion”, a distinction not found in the Sermon on the Mount. The blessedness promised in the Beatitudes is not related to externals as much as to the internal activities of our heart. When the Beatitudes are applied wrongly, the focus is often primarily on the externals. Cults frequently get them wrong. They might twist the first beatitude, for instance, to mean that members of the group should sacrifice on the good things of life, while their leaders live in luxury. Or with the third, while advocating humility, those at the top are sometimes anything but. The fourth becomes self-righteousness instead of the kind of biblical righteousness Jesus was saying we should hunger and thirst for. And cult leaders may preach about mercy but be unmerciful themselves. Or the sixth, on purity of heart, gets skewed because members have difficulty understanding what righteousness is. Then there’s the persecution complex, and so on.
Lloyd-Jones’s statements apply though to Christians.
The Beatitudes are not only the introduction to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount but also to our lives. And how they shape our character and how we subsequently live them serves as an introduction to genuine Christianity for others around us too.