In this third blog in a series on the Beatitudes, I am reflecting on blessedness connected to mercy, purity, and peacemaking. Our Lord has given us a clear picture of the fruits generated by the Holy Spirit. May we see and comprehend with open hearts.
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
Giving mercy to others is not a worldly principle. On the contrary, looking out for one’s own interests above the needs of others is often viewed as a virtue. But Jesus points us to yet another truth that contradicts human notions.
We love because God loved us first (1 John 4:19), and His love shows us astonishing mercy. God the Father showed us compassion when He sacrificed His Son to pay the price for our sins. God is love (1 John 4:7), and He is the standard.
In His Beatitudes, Christ tells us that the reciprocal to giving mercy is receiving mercy. Those who are merciful receive God’s compassion through salvation and eternal life. Likewise, just as God has given all common grace, we are to express grace with others. When we are in situations in which we can grant compassion to an offender or one in need, our displayed mercy receives attention. Acts of grace not only imitate God’s nature, but they glorify Him.
The Apostle James also comments on mercy in his epistle. He tells us that a life characterized by mercy will be ready for the Day of Judgment. James states, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13)
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Christ tells us those who are pure in heart will see God. Here on earth, purity is seen through the lens of faith. In eternity, the saints will see God’s glory directly. Though imperfect in the temporal world, those who love God with all their being (Mark 12:30) possess the clarity that drives them toward holiness. The pursuit of God is not a “half-hearted” disposition. It is all in; it is a singular purpose.
King David’s act of reconciliation with God is a good illustration. While repenting after his affair with Bathsheba, David exclaimed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10). He understood that sin separated him from God, and he asked for forgiveness. David pleaded to the Lord not to take His Holy Spirit away from him. David had a special anointing, but today, the believer in Christ has the advantage of having the indwelling Holy Spirit as provided in the New Covenant. The Spirit of God drives inner integrity that, in turn, propels the heart’s motives.
Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
It is often said that “history is written by the victors”. Many credit this saying to Winston Churchill; others argue this worldly axiom originated in various forms before Churchill used the line. Most can probably agree that, according to the world’s system, this salute to military conquest on the battlefield is on par with man’s nature. It could be estimated that a variation of this phrase was given birth not long after Cain murdered Abel. In our dark world, peacemaking is viewed as a “neutrality” that interferes with “winning”. Victory in war, in arguments, and in success trumps the naivety of pursuing peace. Men seek the spoils of conflict vs. making compromises.
Consequently, living a life characterized by peacemaking is impossible without the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22-23). As Jesus states, peacemakers are the sons of God. To embrace peacemaking means to tamp down anger, hatred, and pride. In short, peacemaking is foreign to the human disposition.
Furthermore, God tells us to pursue peace in all situations. For instance, Romans 12:18 states, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” Additionally, Scripture is clear that all vengeance is to be left to Yahweh (Romans 12:19).
The foundation of peacemaking is ultimately love. Jesus commands us to love our enemies in no uncertain terms (Matthew 5:43-48). Loving our enemies is a reflection of Yahweh’s character.
In conclusion, the message of the Beatitudes may seem impossible to some. However, the believer in Christ can make significant gains in pursuing these endeavors through the Holy Spirit. If we belong to Him, we will bear fruit in this life.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE ,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
“AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.”
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood."
For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "But IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
1 Peter 3:8-12
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, "The ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. "He MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. “FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL .”