“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
I was not a rebellious youth, I was a hypocritical, two-faced phony. A Christian goody goody by day, hell-raiser at night. My dad was not fooled; I was the youngest of six children. One morning I was late for work due to hungoveritis. This was a prickly problem because I worked for my father, a teetotaler. He met me as I arrived at work, bleary eyed and disheveled. I expected hell fire. His wry, nonsensical comment was, “you must have had something that didn’t concern you last night.” He passed me by and nothing else was said. It was a lesson in mercy, the type of mercy I have sometimes shown to my kids. Our Heavenly Father demonstrates mercy to us all the time, an example of how we should treat others.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Purity is defined as freedom from contamination. A believer’s heart is like gold, and it is very valuable to God. But like gold it can be contaminated by impurities. Fortunately, God is a refiner of hearts. He is constantly working to purify my heart and mind. He wants me to act in a Mark 12 way, “…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 love your neighbor as yourself.” If you examine my heart closely you will see it is contaminated by particles of pride, anger, selfishness, lust, greed and a bunch of other ugly attitudes. Ultimately my heart will be completely purified in heaven. Until then, God will continue His refining work in me.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
The world is a violent place. In my city, people are shot almost every night. Shooting and murder are only the most egregious expressions of anger. People fight, shout, cry, run away and argue all the time. It even happens in churches. I have witnessed numerous ugly arguments, shouting and name-calling… and that was in church leadership meetings! How can this be when we worship a God of peace? (2 Cor. 13:11 and elsewhere.) Peacemakers are humble servants of Jesus Christ. Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Real peacemakers are servants.
“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.”
Years ago I met a man in an Asian country who shared his life story with me. He had been jailed and tortured numerous times because he was a Christ-follower who was not afraid to tell others about Jesus. He told about how the guards would cut his arms and rub salt and hot spices into the wounds to inflict pain. As an American I have only experienced mild ridicule for my religious beliefs. Somewhat skeptical, I asked to see evidence. He turned his wrists upward for me to examine. I almost wept. His commitment to Jesus was evident in his scars. He is still preaching in his country, telling others about a God who loved us so much He sacrificed His son for our sins. He also is still living under persecution. This man’s faith is real and his reward in heaven will be great. As for now, he is genuinely blessed… his heart and mind are correctly aligned with God and he is in a good state of being.
May we all be so blessed.