Blessed Are the Merciful

What did Jesus mean when He said, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice?'” (Matthew 9:13).

I find John Piper’s article about Jesus’ idea of mercy insightful. John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.

You may read his post here: Blessed Are the Merciful. Have a great week!


Blessed Are Those Who Hunger . . .

While the first four beatitudes build on each other and describe the needs of Jesus’ disciples, the fifth beatitude is essential.

If we know our weakness and sin, we will ask God to meet our need for righteousness. You may read more about this topic here: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness. Wishing you a wonderful week!

Why did Jesus say “Blessed are the Meek”?

Meekness is not weakness. Sometimes we confuse the two. But the difference between a meek person and a weak person is this: a weak person can’t do anything. A meek person, on the other hand, can do something but chooses not to.

Christianity.com

If meekness isn’t weakness and God chooses to bless the one who walks in this virtue, then I want to know the truth of what meekness really means.

Christianity.com describes meekness as a virtue that draws courage, strength, conviction, and good disposition from God, not from self-centered human resources. I found their post really insightful about Jesus’ third beatitude from His Sermon on the Mount. You may read it here: Who are the Meek?

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4 NIV).

I wonder what went through the minds of Jesus’ disciples when Jesus shared this beatitude. For these collection of truths, which we know as the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, seems to go against society’s way of thinking and living. Jesus, however, was not directing these teachings to the general population, but rather to His closest friends. His teaching aims to prepare His followers for His kingdom. Living out these truths will result in a lifestyle radically different from the world’s.

We usually attribute “blessed” to someone who has acquired wealth, good health, power, or prestige. But Jesus challenges our thinking as He calls some people “blessed” who appear quite the opposite. How exactly is the person who mourns blessed? Mourning seems to depict images of funerals and suffering. It’s not a natural thing to view oneself as blessed when struggling, resulting in a bucket of tears, red puffy eyes, and a burdened heart.

Although blessed usually means “happy” in the Bible, the context of Matthew 5 seems to convey more of “an enviable state”. Jesus is distinguishing the world’s image of happiness with true blessedness—spiritual riches—which only comes from a right relationship with God.

GotQuestons.org notes: The term mourn means “to experience deep grief.” In keeping with His theme of spiritual blessedness, Jesus seems to indicate that this mourning is due to grief over sin. The people who agree with God about the evil of their own hearts can attain an “enviable state of blessedness,” due to the comfort they receive from communion with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Comforter (John 14:162615:262 Corinthians 1:4). The Spirit comforts those who are honest about their own sin and humble enough to ask for forgiveness and healing. Deep repentance requires deep conviction that comes from deep brokenness. Those who hide their sin or try to justify it before God can never know the comfort that comes from a pure heart, as Jesus talks about in Matthew 5:8 (cf. Proverbs 28:13Isaiah 57:15). This is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

What Does It Mean to be Poor In Spirit?

In His longest recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-11), Jesus begins by describing the attributes He looks for in His followers. He promises something special awaits those who attempt to develop and live out these attributes. Fair warning, however, like a salmon swimming upstream, our sincere attempts to develop these traits will create opposition since each beatitude goes against the current of society’s typical way of life. But as challenging as this way of living may be, God meets us in our humble efforts. For He desires for us to be close to Him and experience His abundant life.

Beatitude #1

In His first beatitude, Jesus states, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). What exactly does this mean? Why would God want us to be “poor in spirit”?

Some people think Jesus is referring to financial poverty with the thought that being poor will keep riches from being a relational hedge between us and God. While it’s true that Jesus warns us of the dangers of seeking riches (Matthew 6:24), this doesn’t seem to be His aim in Matthew 5:3. So what exactly is Jesus referring to?

Jesus is concerned with spiritual realities in the beatitudes, not material possessions. So being “poor in spirit” means being “spiritually poor”. This thought becomes clearer by exchanging the word “humble” in place of the word “poor”. When we recognize our impoverished and utter spiritual bankruptcy before God, we are being humble in spirit. It’s the realization that we have absolutely nothing of worth to offer a holy, powerful God. When we admit that we are completely destitute spiritually, due to our sin, and are personally powerless to deliver ourselves, we position ourselves to receive “the kingdom of heaven”. God’s kingdom is not only eternity in heaven with God after death (Romans 6:23), but also the eternal quality of life with God before death (John 10:10).

The opposite of “poor (humble) in spirit” is a self-satisfied, proud heart. The results of pride may take on different forms, but the worst is spiritual pride. God cannot bless the one who thinks he/she doesn’t need Him. For “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

We can’t earn our way to God or heaven. No matter our position in life, when we acknowledge our spiritual poverty, we can come to God in faith to receive the salvation He freely offers. Often the richer we are in material possessions, or when we place more confidence in ourselves rather than in God, the poorer our hearts’ condition will be. God never forces Himself on anyone. But for the surrendered, humbled heart, He will not only save one from sin, but will also add abundant blessing to his/her life.

Do you see your own need for Christ? Do you recognize that you are a sinner and need God’s forgiveness? By refusing to let pride─or anything else─stand in the way, you position yourself to turn to Christ in humility and faith.