It might be a good project for each of us – to try to

summarize the Sermon on the Mount

(Matthew 5 – 7) in 209 words.

Brian McLaren has done so

in his The Secret Message of Jesus (chapter 15, “Kingdom Ethics”, p 136).

Each of us would no doubt change the wording

in some places, or the overall emphasis. For example “The Golden Rule” is quoted in full but “The Lord’s Prayer” isn’t even summarized. McLaren undertook a difficult project, and this is worth reading and thinking about a bit.

Here it is:


  • Be poor in spirit,
  • mourn,
  • be meek,
  • hunger and thirst for true righteousness,
  • be merciful,
  • be pure in heart,
  • be a peace-maker,
  • be willing to joyfully suffer persecution and insult for doing what is right.

Be salt and light in the world – by doing good works.

Do not hate or indulge in anger, but instead seek to reconcile.

Do not lust or be sexually unfaithful in your heart.

Do not presume to make vows, but have simple speech, where yes means yes and no, no.

Do not get revenge, but find creative and nonviolent ways to overcome evil done to you.

Love your enemies, as God does, and be generous to everyone, as God is.

Give to the poor, pray, and fast secretly.

Don’t let greed cloud your outlook, but store up treasure in heaven through generosity.

Don’t worry about your own daily needs, but instead trust yourself to God’s care, and seek God’s kingdom first and foremost.

Don’t judge others, but instead first work on your own blindness.

Go to God with all your needs, knowing that God is a caring Father.

Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Don’t be misled by religious talk; what counts is actually living by Jesus’ teaching.

[I first published this here in 2008.]


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