Jesus Taught Them and Us

Blessed are You
Matthew 5:1-5 ESV

“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’”

To be poor in spirit is to be humble and contrite before the Lord. To mourn is to be sorrowful over our sins with a godly sorrow which leads to repentance. And to be meek does not mean to be weak. Meekness is exercising God’s strength under his control, being compassionate, but at the same time speaking the truth in love. Jesus was a perfect example of meekness.

Hunger and Thirst
Matthew 5:6 ESV

“‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.’”

I think we all know what it means to be hungry and thirsty, although many of us in America have never truly starved. We may not have had much at all, but we never went truly hungry to where we had to go without food. But we know that feeling we get where we crave food and something to drink.

Well, in this case we are to hunger and thirst for righteousness like we would hunger for food and long for something to drink when we are truly hungry and thirsty. And righteousness is what is right (true, proper, best, decent, just, moral, honorable, upright, and acceptable) in God’s sight.

Thus, we should go after, seek, long for, and desire righteousness and holiness. Our hearts should yearn to walk in obedience to our Lord and to do what he says and to live holy lives pleasing to him. And we should no longer passionately desire what is evil, immoral, wicked, and dishonest.

Pure in Heart
Matthew 5:7-9 ESV

“‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’”

If we are merciful, we are compassionate and kindhearted. We care about other people and what they are going through. We are praying for them, and we are finding ways we can minister God’s love and grace to them. It may be with just a nod, a smile, a kind word spoken or written, or with a gift, or doing something to help. Or it may be just to listen and to empathize.

But mercy never coddles people in their sins. It doesn’t approve of or wink the eye at sin. If people are caught in sin, especially if they have been living in sin deliberately and habitually, mercy doesn’t just sympathize with them. If they are not believers, mercy shares the gospel with them. If they are believers, mercy shares what the Scriptures teach to Christians about sin, and mercy attempts to lead them away from sin to obedient faith in Jesus.

To be pure in heart means to be honest, decent, moral, and upright in character, in thought, in word, in motives, in attitudes and in deeds. And it means to be untainted by the sinful pleasures of this fallen world. It means to desire the Lord and his righteousness and all that is good and proper, and to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God.

Peacekeepers will never “ruffle feathers” and will willingly do whatever they need to do to avoid any conflict, even if it means compromising truth and their faith in Jesus Christ. A peacemaker, though, doesn’t compromise truth or the gospel or their faith in order to appease others or in order to not “make waves.”

Jesus was a peacemaker, not a peacekeeper, and he definitely “made waves,” and he upset people because he didn’t compromise with them. For, peacemakers are more concerned with people being at peace with God than they are with whether or not people like them and think that they are nice.

Persecuted for Righteousness
Matthew 5:10-12 ESV

“’Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

’Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’”

When we are humble in spirit, and we are repentant over sin, and so we have turned away from our sinful practices to follow the Lord Jesus in his ways and in his truth, and when we exercise God’s strength under his control and so we are compassionate, yet we speak the truth in love, Satan is going to be against us, and so will many people who don’t love Jesus.

When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so our desire is to serve and to please our Lord, and when we show mercy coupled with wisdom and discernment, and according to how God shows mercy, and so we share the gospel with others for their encouragement and for their salvation, Satan is not going to be happy with us, and many humans won’t be, either.

When we are pure in heart in the midst of a wicked and crooked generation, we are not going to be well liked, either, for some (or many) people are not going to want to be around us, for they will think us to be self-righteous or “stuck up” (conceited). And being with us will be uncomfortable for them, for their own motives are not pure and neither are their actions.

Peacekeepers are well liked because they say what people like to hear. They don’t say anything that will cause people to not like them or to be disgruntled with them, but they will say what they think people want to hear, and what will make them favorable to them, for they want to be liked more than they care about other people’s true needs.

Peacemakers, on the other hand, will say what people need to hear, for their goal is to lead people to peace with God and to righteous and holy living and away from living sinful lives pleasing only themselves.

And so some (or many) people won’t like them because they don’t want to hear the truth. They want their ears tickled with feel good messages which do not confront them in their sin, and which do not move them to repentance and obedience. They want to hear that they can continue living in sin and still be forgiven their sins and have heaven guaranteed them.

So, if you are living a godly life pleasing to the Lord, and you are walking with the Lord in righteousness and holiness, in his power and strength, and if you are sharing the kinds of things with others which Jesus and his New Testament apostles taught, many people are not going to approve of you, even not many who call themselves Christians. And they may indeed revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of Jesus and his gospel.

But when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and not for doing evil, we are blessed, and we are to rejoice, for our reward is great in heaven, but also because we know that the word of God is going out to people and people are hearing it, and people are believing in Jesus, and this is why Satan is angry with us, and it is why we are being persecuted, so in that we should rejoice.

Blessed Be Your Name

by Matt Redman

In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness

When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering

Blessed be the name of the Lord

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

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