Spiritual Practice

Blessed to Be a Blessing

Anne Crumpler

The beatitudes sum up Christian discipleship: We are blessed by God so we can be a blessing to our neighbors.

Crowds of people followed Jesus. They were tattered and dirty from living on the street, begging a crust of bread. They were pale and clammy from fever. They limped along, dragging a useless leg or a foot torn from too much travel. They were crazy, talking nonsense, shouting on street corners, weaving from too much wine. They prayed for healing. Some were just plain curious, waiting for a miracle. Some were Jesus’ disciples.

Imagine Jesus standing in the crowd, teaching:

     “Blessed are you who are poor,
          for yours is the kingdom of God.
     Blessed are you who are hungry now,
          for you will be filled.
     Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
                        Luke 6:20b–21 (NRSV)

A Promise

The beatitudes (beatitude means “blessing”) are promises for a new day, when God’s kingdom will be established on earth. (Read more about God’s kingdom in Revelation 21:1–5 or Isaiah 25:6–10.) The kingdom of God is not heaven—”pie in the sky when we die”—but a new creation, a new human society ruled by God.

Tears2 TSP 101081000In God’s kingdom, all people have enough. The poor are no longer poor; the hungry are well fed. The sick are healed, the dead raised God teaches the nations holiness and peace and wipes away tears from every face. Jesus promises a future in which God will be in charge and God’s love will be expressed in human love, generosity, peace, and good humor. So the beatitudes are good news, a promise of blessings to come.

A Call to Action

In Matthew the beatitudes are a little different. (Check out Matthew 5:3–11.) “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” says Jesus, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The “poor in spirit” are like the poor: they know they are needy and that all they have comes from God. They also stand with the poor as advocates, trying to bring about economic and social change so that everyone has shelter, clothing, and a full belly.

dove2 TSP 147027411“Blessed are the peacemakers,” says Jesus. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” The beatitudes are both promises and expectations. God promises peace and expects us to be peacemakers. God promises that all people will be showered with God’s mercy, so we should be merciful to one another. God will establish justice, righteousness, and equality. How can we set things right in the communities where we live?

The beatitudes are blessings, good news for the future. They are also a call to action. The people of God are called to be a blessing, working for a human society based on God’s steadfast love.

Blessed to Be a Blessing

The beatitudes sum up Christian discipleship: we are blessed by God so we can be a blessing to our neighbors. As God loves us, we are to love one another. God promises a world built on justice, righteousness, and generosity. Jesus calls us to get involved to bring about social change.



Read aloud the beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–11. Think about what God promises and what, specifically, God calls you to do in your family, at school, in your church, and in your community.

SAY A PRAYER: God, give me faith in your promises and courage to answer your call. Amen.

Anne Crumpler tries to live out the beatitudes in Nashville, Tennessee.

—from devozine (September/October 2003). Copyright © 2003 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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