Jesus’ Guide to the Ultimate Lifestyle
By Dr. Mark Bailey- Dallas Theological Seminary
How do ordinary people, living ordinary lives, live “in the world, but not of it?”
Every morning we wake up and go to work. Most of us watch the news and check our email. We care for our families and enjoy our friends. On the surface, we look a lot like our neighbors. But as Christians, God calls us to be different. That difference is for a distinct purpose. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:16, to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
As Christ followers, Jesus asks us to pursue a life that’s fundamentally different from the cultures around us, even in the everyday moments.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, Paul tells us to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders …”
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus casts a vision for a fulfilled life that surpasses all others, the ultimate lifestyle. A life that is fundamentally different from those around us. And, who would not want a secure future, to leave a lasting legacy, to enjoy great relationships and possess unusual insight?
Through the Beatitudes, Jesus promises these things and more to those with a mindset to pursue Godly character. But along with the blessings come distinct conditions. Jesus proposes these unique qualities to us in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12.
A Secure Future
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
If we want a secure future that extends through this life and into eternity, we need to come to Jesus with a humble heart of faith. This humble approach recognizes our spiritual poverty, which can only be addressed by God’s gracious provision. The assurance of our present possession and future presence in the kingdom of God is only possible by recognizing our spiritual need is total and not partial. Faith is a response to grace that only God can provide.
A Calm Heart
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
If we want to maintain a calm heart and a cleansed conscience in a fallen world, a conscious recognition of sin followed by appropriate repentance is a necessity. Mourning in the Bible is almost always associated with the conviction of the sin. Comfort comes with the promise that God is faithful and just to forgive when that sin is confessed (1 John 1:9).
A Lasting Legacy
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
If we want to experience all that God intends us to experience in this world, we need to bring an attitude of gentle restraint, and place whatever power or authority we possess under His control. Meekness is not weakness, but a tender heartedness knowing that the reward for servant-hearted leadership will be rewarded in the future when we co-reign with Christ in His kingdom.
A Deep Sense of Fulfillment
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied
If we want to live a fulfilling life of meaning and purpose, we must come with a teachable spirit to learn God’s definition of what a flourishing life should look like. A biblical worldview means living life “rightly” according to the revealed standards of God.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
If we want to enjoy meaningful relationships with other people, we need to reflect the gracious love and forgiveness we have received from God toward others. Corrie ten Boon, survivor of Nazi imprisonment in World War II, said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and then to discover the prisoner was you.” As we see in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to ask for forgiveness while we also extend forgiveness to others.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
If we want to gain unusual spiritual insight into the ways and wisdom of God, we will need to live a life of holiness by allowing God to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Like Moses, we should sincerely pray to the Lord: “Show me now your ways that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight” (Exodus 33:13).
A Great Reputation
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
If we want to earn a Christ-like reputation before a watching world, we must be known for promoting reconciliation with a spirit of fairness, free from partiality. According to this text, we are most like Christ when we seek to bring people back into harmonious relationships. In fact, Paul summarized the ministry to which he has called all believers as ambassadors for Christ with a single term: “reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).
Rest in Future Justice
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
If we want to faithfully endure hardship, misunderstanding, or slander for the sake of the gospel with the hope of ultimate justice, we will need to come to Jesus with an attitude of patient rejoicing. When we know our heavenly reward is coming, we are in good company in whatever we face. Peter prompts us to remember others suffering around the world by resisting Satan while at the same time standing for the faith (1 Peter 5:9).
Jesus follows the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:13-14 by teaching, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? … You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Jesus tells us that people of such integrity make an impact for Him in the world. The beatitudes and their prerequisite behaviors are what make God’s people the “salt and light” that counter the decay and darkness of this present world.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us how to establish a credible witness to our neighbors. He tells us how to be different and find fulfillment in Him. Let us not be a people who lose their saltiness. According to Jesus, living with the values of God’s kingdom, while awaiting its consummation, is the ultimate lifestyle.
Dr. Mark L. Bailey
BSF Board Member
Dr. Mark L. Bailey is the Chancellor and Senior Professor of Bible exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas, He has served at DTS for 37 years. Prior to assuming the seminary’s presidency, Dr. Bailey served as professor of Bible Exposition and vice president of academic affairs. He pastored churches in Arizona and Texas. He was seminar instructor for the Walk Thru the Bible Ministries for 20 years and is in currently in demand for Bible conferences and other preaching engagements. He is married to his wife, Barby, and they have two married sons and six grandchildren.