Last week we began an 8-week journey of spiritually engaging what it means to understand the concept of being blessed in the Lord. What we began to discover last week is that receiving the blessings of God is not realized by a casual Christian but is only brought to life in one who has embraced the call of Christ in their lives. So, this morning, lets continue to discover what our Lord defines as a blessed life as we turn to Matthew 5.
Scripture – Matthew 5:1-12 (NIV)
Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
He said: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Engaging the Word
So last week discussed the spiritual importance that our Lord calls us to in this text. That these truths that we are discussing today are not gifts. That they are not to be picked and chosen like they are some menu items in a Starbucks. Rather these truths a list of Godly characteristics that we are required to embrace as believers to experience a holy and blessed life.
- This first characteristic that we covered was that of being poor in spirit. That this was not a calling a go through life experiencing a spirit of defeat, but rather it is as David writes in Psalms 34:6, a calling to embrace the bankrupt state of our souls so that we might embrace the riches of his presence in our lives. That it is only in the embracing the truth of the lost state of our lives that we can fully embrace all that our Savior gives us as his disciples.
- The second Godly characteristic that we were called to embrace was that of mourning. It was in this element that we outlined that to come in mourning was not an outward expression but rather an inward experience. A mournful spirit is not defined by the loss of this world, personal or possession. A mournful spirit is experienced in fully seeing our sinful state and the hope of our Savior. It is found as believer by embracing the truth that King David spoke. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139: 23-24, NIV) It is only when we live this truth in our lives that we can truly experience what it means to be comforted by our creator.
- The third and last Godly characteristic that we covered last week was that of calling to meekness. We discovered that to be meek means to be quite, gentle, courteous, considerate and some cases submissive. It was this calling that urges us to embrace a life that submits to the authorities over us, to consider those around us as more important and in need, and to come in submission to our Lord’s will for our lives in every aspect.
It was through these first three beatitudes we notice that the natural man finds no happiness or blessedness in spiritual poverty, mourning or meekness. These are only a blessing for the spiritual man, those who are new creatures in Jesus.
Hunger and Thirst After Rightousness
Next our Lord says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Contentment is something that many in today’s world search for, every day of their life. There are so many in life, who walk through life looking, searching for fulfillment in their lives. These individuals turn to self, most times because that is all they know. They focus on things like money, success, drugs, alcohol, sex, food, even self-obsession. This is evidenced by the magazines on the grocery store rack and the movies that illustrate the lie that fulfillment is just a choice away. As many of us have realized the more worldly choices we make in this life, the emptier our lives exist. There is NOTHING in life that you can take, a drug, alcohol, food, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, exercise that will fill your life. The only thing that will provide fulfillment in our lives today and forever is a hunger and thirst for righteousness. A hunger and thirst for Jesus in our lives. Why does our Lord say this morning, “Hunger and thirst”? Why doesn’t He just say hunger? Why doesn’t He just say thirst? Why isn’t it search? I believe that it is important to consider this wording. It is evident in the life of the church that many of us come to church for the purpose of receiving the spiritual desert. We appreciate the spiritual desert in our lives but we fail to yearn after the vegetables in the Word. When one is truly hungry, one does not pick and choose what one wants. Rather in our true spiritual hunger and thirst focuses on every aspect of the spiritual meal before us and desires to eat every morsel our Lord gives. It is for this reason that some of us fall to the way side and some of us, accept that just sitting in church is sufficient for the kingdom. As a result we scratch our heads when we don’t see victory in our lives. This morning if you are at this point in your life, if you are struggling with real Christianity that lies before you. If you want real spiritual change in your life, come to the Lord and hunger and thirst after all that He gives. It is here that you will be filled. It is here that you will see a blessed life.
The Lord says, Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. What does it mean to be merciful. Does it mean to be kind to people. Is it something that you and I can do on our own? Let me provide an illustration of what merciful means in the life of a Christian. Around the time of the Korean War, Kim Joon-gon had seen 2,000 out of 20,000 people on Chunnam Island murdered by the Communists. They dragged he and his family outside their village where Kim’s father and wife were beaten to death and Kim was left for dead. When he revived and sought safety at an acquaintance’s house, he was turned over to the Communists. Only the sudden appearance of an American ship off the island coast saved him this time, for the Communist soldiers hurried away to the battle. Kim hid out in the countryside until the South Korean army captured the island. The Communists who had killed his wife and father were arrested. Because it was wartime, the police chief had authority to execute without a trial. But as the chief prepared to kill the men, Kim pleaded, “Spare them. They were forced to kill.” The police chief showed great surprise. “It was your family they killed! Why do you now want to spare their lives?” Kim replied, “Because the Lord, whose I am and whom I serve, would have me show mercy to them.” The Communists were spared execution because of Kim’s plea. News of his action spread among other Communist supporters in the area. When Kim later climbed a mountain to preach to Communists hiding out, he was not killed. Many of the Communists became Christians, and when Kim finally left the island there was a flourishing church of 108 members. You see showing mercy is not something that you and I do naturally. Godly mercy requires individual submission so that Godly intervention and healing can be realized. In fact movies now days relish in the fact that we get the bad guys. However, our Lord calls us to forgive each other. As it says in Matthew 18, when Peter came to the Lord and asked Him how many times we should forgive our neighbors, did the Lord tell him to just forgive him that time? No the Lord told him to forgive his brother or sister “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to us. It is something that the Lord gives us as we enter into the callings we have just spoken about this morning. Let me ask you this morning. Is there someone in your life that has hurt you? It could be a friend, a family member, your spouse, your child. Is there someone in your life, that when you see them you try to avoid them because it hurts too much to face them? This morning our Lord calls you and me to forgive each other. This morning our Lord calls us to illustrate mercy in our walk with Him. We are inherently sinful individuals and so for us to act out of hurt to those that hurt us, is evidence of the sin that is within us. Our lives should illustrate to the world around us that our responses in life are not own, but are our Lord’s in us. Is there evidence of His mercy in us today? Do we live a life of mercy or do we walk in the human self culture that surrounds us?
Being Pure in Heart
Next our Lord says, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. What does it mean to be pure in heart? Is our Lord calling us to be perfect? Purity is a concept that few see in their lives today. It is realized in one’s life when one enters into the state of meekness already spoken of in this scripture. Is it possible for you and me to be pure in heart on our own? In today’s world being pure in heart is seen as a shortcoming. Today we are faced with the language of this world. we are faced with music that glorifies violence and sex. A society where if we take drugs or if we have sex outside the bounds of marriage, that’s ok. God help us. So let me ask you again, do you think that we can see purity in our lives on our own? There is nothing you and I can ever do to see purity in our lives. To see purity in our lives, we have to have to come to our Lord in mourning for our sins, we have to come to Him in submission with a heart of meekness and poorness in spirit and we have to come to him thirsting after righteousness in our lives. You may be asking me this morning, Pastor how do I see purity in my heart this morning? How do I know that I am pure? It is evidenced in the life of the believer, the purity to which one embraces as a believer, by the music that one listens to, the movies that one watches, the language that one uses. These are evidences of our purity. Let me put it to you this way. If we find ourselves hiding the music, movies, cigarettes, in today’s world joints, alcohol or books away for our Lord, it is there that we should seek purity in our lives. It is in seeking after the spiritual purity that we will see God.
Being a Peace Maker
Our Lord says in verse 9, Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. What are peacemakers? There are I believe two types of peacemakers in this world. In the church today it is common for us as Christians to come into a situation where there is strife and take a side that we believe in. An example of this is when a marriage is going through tough times. Have you ever seen a situation where a husband and wife are going through a rough time in their marriage and the children and friends take sides as they through this rough patch? Our Lord however calls us to be peacemakers. He requires for us to enter into the situation with a heart seeking for reconciliation in the situation. Once again this is not something you and I can do naturally, rather it is a perspective that only He can give us in our relationship with him.
Sometimes being a peacemaker requires of us to step on people’s toes and challenge their spiritual lives. I don’t know if you have ever been a part of a conversation where there are a couple of individuals discussing someone within the church, discussing how this person does this and this person does that. Have you ever seen an individual who in exhibiting this peacemaker attitude responds to these individuals by saying something great about this individual at the beginning of the conversation? Rather than providing support for the dog pile on this person, a peacemaker rather reaches out to support and love this person who is struggling in life. Talk about pouring cold water onto the situation. The people standing there running this person down are expecting you to jump in and run this person down and support them in their position, yet you do the Jesus thing. This is what it means to be a peacemaker. This morning are we people running other people down with others, or are we reaching out to strengthen those in our community that have fallen so that they may restored in His kingdom. Are we peacemakers this morning?
See this world is rife with division, hatred and turmoil, realizing peace in the life of anyone is not found in the accords we write as governments, or the agreements between parties or the verbal consolations between people. Rather true peace can only be realized in Christ Jesus. True peace whether you are talking about nations, churches, people, or families, can only be experienced when we go before the Lord searching after his heart for our lives. A peacemaker does not enter into trial and turmoil with peace, a son and daughter of God enters into trial and turmoil with Jesus. A peacemaker is not defined by the peace one brings into the trials and turmoil of this life. A peacemaker is marked by the Jesus, they bring into the trial and turmoil of this life.
The Journey of a Faithful Follower
Finally in this passage our Lord closes his message off to us by saying Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. As we have already discussed this morning, the evidences of being pure in heart, being peacemakers, or being merciful, is not something that the world is familiar with. It is not fruit that you or I can bear on our own. In fact that only way that we can see this fruit in our lives is by going to him in submission, thirsting after His righteousness in our lives. So why would the world be welcoming of this type of life amongst them. As you enter into this type of life with Jesus, it is not going to be easy. People will look at you weird. People will want to fight you. People will want to cause you to stumble. Praise the Lord that we live in a country that we can freely praise the Lord, live in our Bible and come together to worship our Lord and Savior. However we are not without any persecution. In fact persecution is alive and well in this country. It is evidenced by the hatred for Godly values. It is evidenced by the love for the things of this world. It is evidenced by the war against the Godly principles for which this country was built upon. This morning our Lord is saying, He knows that we will face this persecution in our lives, but because we face this persecution we will be blessed. This last portion of passage unlike all the other verses that we discussed this morning promises not something that we will see in our life here but rather something that we will see in the life to come with our Father. He says, Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward in heaven.
Let me close off this morning. For us to see blessedness in our lives, our Lord calls us
- To be poor in spirit, to come to Him realizing that we have nothing without Jesus,
- To be mournful in spirit, desire for His forgiveness in our lives,
- To be meek in spirit, giving up completely of self in submission to His will in our lives,
- To hunger and thirst after His righteousness, not after our own desires in life, but His righteousness in our life.
In coming to Him in this spirit, He will in turn give us,
- Merciful spirit – one that searches to love others even when they have hurt us.
- A Pure Heart – one who sees their Lord not just on Sundays but in every moment that they face in this world.
- The Heart of Peacemaker – one who stands not with the crowd but one who seeks to reach out to those who have stumbled?