Yesterday I posted concerning the first four Beattitudes, which deal primarily with our direct response to God’s work in our lives as we strive to enter the Kingdom. Today I want to share some brief reflections on the last four Beattitudes which relate to our response to others.
“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7, NLT).
When we recognize our spiritual bankruptcy, we mourn. When we mourn over that bankruptcy, we enter into deep humility, which causes us to trust. In the midst of that trust our desires and appetites change and we exchange our desires for what God desires, creating satisfaction. And when we desire what God wants we realize that its not just about us. There are others in this world for whom God has a plan. When we receive mercy, we should become merciful as well. Perhaps this is why children share more easily than adults. Children share because they realize everything they have comes as a gift from someone else. We adults tend to think we have to keep what we have because we have earned it. So it is with mercy. We didn’t earn it or deserve it. But we have it and should be quite willing to share it. As we share mercy God’s mercy is even more available to us.
“God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8, NLT).
When my son interned for a local Division I football program he quickly learned that he could not wear any article of clothing in the football facility that was as black. The reason? Black was the school color of the in state rival. Purity of heart has to do with a heart that is undivided. To be pure in heart is to be free from alloy or duplicity. It means to be single minded. The single minded are those who see God.
“God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9, NLT).
When we desire what God desires and our hearts are undivided, we will work for what God works for, which is peace. Notice that the Beattitude does not say, “blessed are the peace keepers.” Peacekeepers have the goal of finding quiet. Peacemakers, however, work toward reconciliation. The peacemakers are those who will be reminiscent of God’s likeness.
“God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (Matthew 5:10, NLT).
Anytime we roll up our sleeves and work for reconciliation and redemption someone is going to be unhappy. It was true in Jesus’ day, and perhaps is more true today. I recently read that there are approximately 180 Christians per month in the world today who die because of their faith. These are those who work to bring reconciliation between God and human kind in places where Christianity is illegal.
Over these past two posts I’ve focused quite a bit on the progression to the neglect of the promised reward that accompanies each “blessing.” That doesn’t diminish the promises that Jesus offers. As we grown in our Christian character we can see what we attain with each step. But I am of the mind that the progression itself is worth it, with or without the reward.
As I study this progression I can’t help but ask myself the question, “So where am I in process? Perhaps that’s the takeaway. To understand the Beattitudes to the extent that we not only see how far we’ve come, but to see how far we still have to go.