In the early 1980’s, I was introduced to the idea that the Beatitudes are like a ladder. I had heard church women talking about some of these and about how they are applied, with little
consensus. So, I decided to find out more about them. I took about 18 months, studying each in-order, and coming to some conclusions. Later, I found out that the ladder idea came
from Ellen White’s writings: Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 13 –“ Throughout the Beatitudes there is an advancing line of Christian experience.”
Following is what I have decided from my studies.
The poor in spirit realize that a gap exists between their situation and their needs, and they seek to span the gap in some useful way.
Some growth-stopping methods dull awareness of the gap: pharmacoia, drugs, over-exercising, over-eating. The 7 deadly sins stop growth.
The mourners need help to span the gap; they feel their need. Mourning gets us looking beyond our norms and cultural mores, for better abilities and circumstances--change.
A growth-stopper is looking for a place or situation or soul to hide in or behind. The Joy of the Lord gets us past this self-consciousness, though a safe place can be useful to re-group and to
stop simple reactionary actions.
Real growth is sobering; it involves change. Soberness gets us past frivolity, scornfulness, and even mourning. Growth brings greater understanding, which brings greater faith. Faith is
understanding enough so we can trust what we do not yet understand--until we study and experience enough to understand it.
The meek can be led. Change is always resisted, but the meek seek understanding, as the Proverbs repeatedly adjure. Understanding comes by learning parameters--a step beyond
simple rule-following obedience. Parameters develop the Spiritual Gift of discernment -- a leap beyond simple servitude, but including obedience within it. With discernment, the meek
are obedient to truth rather than to opinions. This discernment is the basis of human, intelligent, image-of-God interaction with the planet and with people.
As we are sober and realize that truth helps us, and that God guides and protects us, our Joy in the Lord grows; pride finds its proper place as appreciation.
Remembering our feelings of vulnerability as we make changes, remembering the feelings at the gap's edge, in mercy, we refrain from disparaging others who have not yet taken all of
the steps we have, at least not in the issue at hand. In compassion, we continue to seek solutions: individuality is respected without compromising self, we live in real-time without past feelings encroaching upon us.
As we learn and implement solutions, we gain confidence in solution-finding and hunger for more solutions.
Patience is part of compassion. Patience is a self-protective mercy-time for clearing personal/cultural/generational habitual responses to people and to circumstances. Adding patience to learning solutions makes our hearts more calm, more pure, more discerning.
Solutions are the basis of peacemaking. Respect for patience, individuality, small beginnings--these all reduce the friction in a situation, and are all parts of solution-finding. The guidelines of the basic Ten Commandments are also instructions for reducing friction among varied individuals, in multiple situations, and under multiple circumstances.
Even for emergencies, patience was used to study good responses for emergency situations. Patience allows us to focus and to retain change. Patience is what grace and mercy are about--time to grow and understand and change/repent.
Peacemaking starts into limits and boundaries with other people and with situations. Sometimes, we do well to just walk away, not punishing those whom we retreat from. I don't believe in unconditional love; if it was a reality, there would be no hell for the un-creation of the perpetually abrasive. I think mercy time extends until the Great White Throne Judgement, at the end of the Saviour's millennial reign.
The counterfeit to peace-making is a pecking-order. Looking at marriage, I find 1 Pe. 3: 1-2 telling wives to not violate their consciense,s or what they believe from their experiences, childhood/adult training and teachinsg. Men are to teach their wives, but sometimes it takes some learning and understanding to figure out how to do this. In the interim, there is still God in the heavens and prayer.
A woman's submission is written in Scripture as a reflexive submission--never imposed from the outside upon her. Her heart has an equal say even as her husband leads her through teaching.
1 Tim 5:14 puts the wife at the head of the family. In the family setting, the husband obeys his wife in-as-far as he can without compromising self. Again, prayer, study, mutual respect, patience, solution-finding -- are all part of peacemaking. Man has his duties and woman has hers; they can overlap, but where there are controversies, each does his/her duty, and keeps an open mind about learning from others. Where big trouble arises, consider the Matthew 18:15+ approach: get others involved at the teaching level.
Oh! And Hirschi did his statistics wrongly. Children--well Hirschi studied only males--are NOT utterly affected by a father-figure in their lives. Sociological Statistician, Mr. Green, re-did the raw data and found 1/2 of 1% difference between boys who had a good father-figure or father-to-son relationship and those who did not. The 1/2 of 1% benefit might come from the Mom feeling more supported as Dad spends some happy time with the boys. Really!! Plenty of women have raised good children after wars, bad neighborhood culture, and/or social harshness have removed a father.
God never put men over young children--manhood is not where the breasts and the female, whole-brain function reside.
When solutions are shared, criticism will follow. Often, these criticisms tweak the solutions in good ways. Often these replace some solutions in good ways. A calm heart gladly receives the improvement.
Some oppositions arise from pride or from power-grabs. Matt 5 says to stay strong and helpful, like salt; to illuminate the issue(s) fully, to find problems/troubles; and to improve the human condition.
We learn to hate the trouble--not the sinners. Sometimes we can step away from trouble while pulling the sinner(s) into better understanding and options.
We all have, at times, been in opposition with God. He loved and loves us still. We are to love our enemies, too--even if to step away from and pray for them.
Chapters 6-7 are still part of this Sermon--great teachings. Remember, responsibilites have co-existent rights, else the "responsible" one is simply a person to blame everything on as the "leaders" negate all necessary action--or don't fund it or something like that.
--MJ Speed Edited for spelling a few days later.