“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matt. 5:3-12 (NIV)
Last week we ended on the fourth Beatitude; Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteusness, and indicated that the foundational requirement for all godly living and our spiritual condition depends on our hunger and thirst for righteousness.
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5. Blessed are the Merciful: The “merciful” are full of sympathy and compassion toward those who are suffering either from sin or sorrow. The merciful sincerely want to help ease and eliminate such suffering by influencing people to depend on God for help and to entrust their lives to Jesus Christ. Merciful people also get actively involved in meeting people’s needs. By showing mercy to others, we “will be shown mercy.”
The fifth beatitude will also mean today as “O the bliss of the man who gets right inside other people, until he can see with their eyes, think with their thoughts, feel with their feelings, for he who does that will find others do the same for him, and will know that, that is what God in Jesus Christ has done!
6. Blessed are the Pure in Heart: The “pure in heart” are those who have devoted themselves to God and have been freed from sin’s power by God’s grace (His undeserved favour, love, help, and enablement). This grace now enables us to please God and bring honour to Him by the way we live. We seek to have the same attitude that God has – a love for what is true and right and hatred of evil. Our heart which includes our mind, will and emotions is in tune with God’s heart. This means that our thoughts and desires are pure according to God’s standards of holiness. God requires holiness in His followers because He is holy and pure in heart “will see God.” To see God means to be His child and experience a close personal relationship with Him both now and in His future eternal kingdom.
“The sixth beatitude will mean “O the bliss of the man whose motives are absolutely pure, for that man will some day be able to see God!”
7. Blessed are the Peacemakers: The “peacemakers” are those who have been reconciled to God that, restored to a right relationship with Him. Peace with God is available to anyone who accepts the sacrifice Jesus made for his or her sins by His death on the cross. Those who truly have peace with God will make every effort to show that peace to others, including our enemies and to bring others into a relationship of peace with God.
The seventh beatitude will mean “O the bliss of those who produce right relationships between man and man, for they are doing a godlike work!”
8. Blessed are those who are Persecuted Because of Righteousness: People who follow Christ and live according to the principles of God’s Word will face opposition and rejection. Those who uphold God’s standards of truth, justice and purity, refusing to follow and walk in the ungodly lifestyles of society will be unpopular. We will receive criticism and opposition from the world and at times from those within the church. The Bible teaches that this is a time to rejoice because God reserves a special blessing for those who suffer for His sake and we must beware of the temptation to compromise our faithfulness to God’s purposes in order to avoid shame, embarrassment or loss. The principles of God’s kingdom never change – “….everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” – 2 Tim. 3:12. Yet those who suffer and endure persecution because of our devotion and commitment to God are promised a place of honour and reward in God’s heavenly kingdom.
It is not likely that death awaits us because of our loyalty to the Christian faith. But insult awaits the man who insists on Christian honour. Mockery awaits the man who practises Christian love and forgiveness. Actual persecution may well await the Christian in industry who insists on doing an honest day’s work. Christ still needs His witnesses; He needs those who are prepared, not so much to die for Him, as to live for Him. The Christian struggle and the Christian glory still exist.
The beatitudes paint a comprehensive portrait of a Christian disciple. We see him first alone on his knees before God, acknowledging his spiritual poverty and mourning over it. This makes him meek or gentle in all his relationships, since honesty compels him to allow others to think of Him what before God he confesses himself to be. Yet he is far from acquiescing in his sinfulness, for he hungers and thirsts after righteousness, longing to grow in grace and in goodness. We all need to grow in the beatitudes!
Methodist Hymn 950
1 Blest are the pure in heart,
For they shall see our God;
The secret of the Lord is theirs,
Their soul is Christ’s abode.
2 The Lord, who left the sky
Our life and peace to bring,
And dwelt in lowliness with men,
Their Pattern and their King
3 Still to the lowly soul
He doth Himself impart;
And for His cradle and His throne
Chooseth the pure in heart.
4 Lord, we Thy presence seek;
May ours this blessing be;
Give us a pure and lowly heart,
A temple meet for Thee.
We see Jesus always with others, out in the human community. His relationship with God does not cause Him to withdraw from society nor is He insulated from the worlds pain. On the contrary, He is in the thick of it, showing mercy to those battered by adversity and sin. He is transparently sincere in all His dealings and seeks to play a constructive role as a peacemaker. Yet He is not thanked for His efforts, but rather opposed, slandered, insulted and persecuted on account of the righteousness for which He stands and the Christ with whom He is identified. Such is the man or woman who is “blessed,” – that is, he who has the approval of God and finds self-fulfillment as a human being!!
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