The Character Traits of the Blessed

The eight traits of the blessed are subject to some variation of interpretation. For example, what is virtuous about being “poor in spirit”? I tend to think that Jesus was describing the first necessary trait a person must possess if he is going to be saved—he must realize his own spiritual poverty. One must first see his need for a Savior before he can be saved, and there were those kinds of people among Jesus’ audience, who had just realized their own wretchedness. How blessed they were compared to the proud who were so blind to their sins.

This first trait eliminates all self-sufficiency and any thought of meriting salvation. The truly blessed person is one who realizes that he has nothing to offer God and that his own righteousness is as “filthy rags” (Is. 64:6, KJV).

Jesus did not want anyone to think that purely by his own self-effort he might possess the traits of the blessed. No, people are blessed, that is, blessed by God if they possess the characteristics of the blessed. It all springs from God’s grace. The blessed people Jesus was speaking of are blessed, not only because of what awaits them in heaven, but because of the work God has done in their lives on earth. When I see the traits of the blessed in my life, it should remind me not of what I’ve done, but of what God has done in me by His grace.