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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

The Beatitudes as a Pattern for Discipleship

The Beatitudes, found in Matthew 5:3-12, provide a profound pattern for discipleship that embodies the essence of Christ's teachings. As a pastor with over two decades of experience, I've seen firsthand the incredible spiritual growth that comes when we align our lives with these principles.

beatitudes as a pattern for discipleship

In this post, we'll explore how the Beatitudes can guide us in forming a discipleship pathway that nurtures genuine followers of Christ.

Here's a brief overview of the Beatitudes:

  • Poor in spirit: Recognizing our need for God. Matthew 5:3

  • Mourn: Grieving sin and brokenness. Matthew 5:4

  • Meek: Exercising God's strength under control. Matthew 5:5

  • Hunger and thirst for righteousness: Desiring to live in right relationship with God and others. Matthew 5:6

  • Merciful: Showing compassion and forgiveness. Matthew 5:7

  • Pure in heart: Seeking purity in motive and allegiance. Matthew 5:8

  • Peacemakers: Working towards reconciliation. Matthew 5:9

  • Persecuted for righteousness: Standing firm in faith amidst opposition. Matthew 5:10-12

Understanding the Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are a series of blessings pronounced by Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Each beatitude starts with "Blessed are," followed by a characteristic of those who embody God's kingdom values.

Key Concept #1: "Blessed"

This Kingdom life is the way to true blessing and happiness. The word blessed in the Beatitudes is the Greek word "makarios," which basically means "happy."

Don't miss this: The way to true happiness isn't material blessings, health, fame, or getting your way. It's living out the principles of God's Kingdom.

Key Concept #2: Upside-down values

The contrasts in the Beatitudes are stunning:

  • The poor in spirit have a Kingdom

  • The mourners are the comforted

  • Happy are the meek

  • Happy are the persecuted

You can't possibly understand these Scriptures without coming to grips with how counterintuitive they are to the usual way of thinking in human culture. Think how strikingly different the message is in:

  • political leadership

  • celebrity culture

  • the corporate world

  • reality TV

  • family relationships

The Kingdom of God has come, and with it have come a whole new set of values. Now, the truth is that these values are not upside down: the world is! This is why Christ has come; to turn things back right side up!

Implementing the Beatitudes in Discipleship

If you're creating a discipleship culture in your church, the Beatitudes form a beautiful measuring stick for identifying growth in discipleship. Here are some tips from one pastor to another:

1. Begin with the Heart

Pride is deadly to spiritual growth, and if it's left unchecked, it will choke the life out of your discipleship. Encourage your disciples to take time for reflection on being "poor in spirit" and "mourning" as gateways to recognizing our total dependence on God. This humility is the foundation for all discipleship.

Be patient of course. Even spiritual growth can reveal leftover pride, just as it did for Jesus' disciples. They were quick to suggest that their newfound authority in Christ could be used to "call down fire" on those who didn't match up to their values. (See Luke 9:51-56)

But Jesus was faithful with a word of rebuke, while being patient with the ones he had called to follow him. We must learn from this.

2. Cultivate Christlike Character

Each Beatitude points to a characteristic of Christ. As we grow, and as we mentor and teach our disciples, focus on these qualities:

  • Meekness and Mercy: Engage in service projects that require humility and offer opportunities for showing mercy.

  • Purity and Peace: Foster environments where honesty is celebrated, and reconciliation is pursued.

  • Righteousness: Create study groups centered around understanding God's justice and how to live it out in our neighborhoods.

  • Holiness and surrender: Holiness isn't a pipe dream. It can be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit in a surrendered life.

3. Embrace Persecution as Part of the Journey

Teaching on the last Beatitude, about persecution for righteousness' sake, prepares disciples for the reality of opposition. Share personal stories and historical examples of faithfulness in the face of persecution to encourage and strengthen resolve.

Living the Beatitudes

Implementing the Beatitudes in discipleship requires intentional living and teaching:

  • Daily Reflections: Encourage disciples to reflect on one Beatitude each day, considering how it applies to their lives.

  • Community Sharing: Foster a community where experiences of living out the Beatitudes are shared, encouraging and edifying one another.

  • Practical Application: Challenge disciples to specific actions each week that embody a Beatitude, such as offering forgiveness, seeking reconciliation, or standing up for justice.

Next Steps for Disciple-Makers

The Beatitudes offer a radical vision for discipleship that goes beyond mere knowledge acquisition to a deeply happy, Kingdom-shaped way of life.

But how to teach that? How to create a system that any new believer can follow?

That's the question that I answer with my NewStart Discipleship system, used by churches nationwide to help them make disciples.

Recommended Discipleship materials

I'd recommend checking out the following resources for discipleship: The Obedience Challenge

To download a free demo copy of the Obedience Challenge, put your email here:

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