The change process in the sermon on the mount is focused on living a blessedly righteous life from God. The idea is that God gave us our physical, relational and spiritual needs and he is the one who will lead us to find real satisfaction in those areas. We tend to get frustrated in life when we try to satisfy some desire and end up causing problems in another area. It is like a Rubik’s cube.
Jesus’ teaching then is how to
Treasure wisely – count the cost of what really matters.
In the sermon this is righteousness of God lived out in our lives. The teachings come from 5:11-20 and 6:19-24. 5:11-20 explains blessed are the persecuted for righteousness. 6:19-24 explains what Jesus means by blessed are the poor in spirit. Both beatitudes end with: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. When we value what is valuable we find true life, even though it is not easy.
Mourning – by fasting we put off old coping habits.
Peacemakers is explained in 5:21-26. Mourning is explained in 6:16-18. Together the idea is really rejecting wrong ways of coping. Specifically the issue described in 5:21-26 is our problems with other people and the need to put off contempt through aggression or avoidance. We need to deal with people and come up with practical solutions.
Meekly seeking – by prayer we learn to get our needs met from God.
Mt 5:27-37 describes the problem with limited righteousness; it isn’t from the heart. Mt6:5-15 describes how to pursue our desires in ways that don’t make us hypocritical.
Generously giving – by giving to make a difference our lives matter in God’s world.
Mt 5:38-47 describes someone who is free to do right bravely because they have received mercy and are no longer fearful. They received mercy when they didn’t deserve it, so they give mercy in the same way. Mt 6:2-4 makes it clear that the motivation is to affect what is needed, not to look good.
The central idea is that we are to grow up to be like our heavenly father by relying on him, not by acting like we rely on him. (Mt 5:48 and 6:1)
Concerns about physical needs are addressed in 6:25-34. God gave us our bodies and is therefore worthy to be the starting point of seeking to fulfill those needs.
Relational concerns are discussed in Mt 7:1-12. The temptation is to worry about others before we make any progress in growing up. Jesus says we mainly need to learn how to relate by relating to God by asking, seeking and knocking. That relationship should then define all of our other relationships.
Finally, spiritual needs are detailed in Mt 13-23. The emphasis is on asking whether we are following a way that really works vs. one that just appears to be working.
Conclusion: there is no point trying to look good if we aren’t. We need to found our life on God and then we will be solid and able to experience good even when challenges come.