I waited longer than I would have liked to work on part 2 of this brief series, but I’m glad to be back on task with it. The first three of the Beatitudes were briefly touched upon last time, so let us get on with the next three:
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
I work in retail. I know full well marketing’s focus on manipulating people into thinking they need things. The abundance of advertising is a testament to that. If a child doesn’t know a certain toy exists, that child would not want it. Likewise, if a person doesn’t know a specific brand of clothing exists, there’d be no desire for it. Marketing creates a hunger, a thirst for things — for riches, for popularity, for appearance, for doodads of all sorts.
However, Jesus did not say that those who hunger and thirst after such things will be fulfilled. Yea, rather, those who desire such things will never be filled. And marketeers know it. Having the coolest toy of the season means nothing next season. Likewise the desire to keep up with the Joneses leaves us always wanting newer, better, and more powerful trinkets and gadgets.
The process is endless. Yet Jesus said that those who hunger and thirst will be filled. Such fulfillment is unknown to so many, so what it is that leads to fulfillment? What is it that, when hungered and thirsted after, can make us happy (blessed)?
Righteousness. Not righteousness in general; rather, the righteousness of God, who Himself is righteous and is the source of it.
Were we righteous of our own accord, we would have no need to hunger and thirst after it. We would already inwardly possess it. What point would there be of an additional filling if righteous could be found within the hearts of man?
But oh, the depravity that resides there instead. Indeed, to hunger and thirst after righteousness necessarily implies a lacking, a want of something which we do not have.
Hungering and thirsting after Christ’s righteousness begets being filled, not only with the righteousness we so desperately need, but with all the fruits which go along with it — such being joy, peace, love, patience, and more.
And what a wonderful thought to keep at the forefront of our minds throughout the day. How would a constant, tenacious pursuit of righteousness change our attitudes, our conversation?
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Who will obtain mercy? The merciful. Here we see very plainly the classic “You get what you give” principle.
But what is being merciful? In a word, mercy is compassion. But it’s more than that. Sympathizing with the poor and providing for them; that’s mercy. Feeding the hungry; that’s mercy. Visiting the sick, tending to orphans, caring for widows; mercy, mercy, mercy.
And mercy is shown when we choose to overlook harms. Mercy is opposed to begrudging. As the Lord directed us to pray, “Forgive us our sins, even as we forgive those who sin against us.”
God looks at our sins — deeds which are so vile and intolerable in His most righteous eyes that we deserve to be punished in Hell for eternity — and He showers down mercy on His sheep.
But we hold hold grudges — however brief they may be — if someone looks at us the wrong way in the supermarket, if someone cuts us off in traffic, or any of a myriad of other silly things.
I believe it could be rightfully said, based upon this Beatitude, that those who God has shown mercy to will exhibit mercy in their everyday life. Those whose lives are characterized by being unmerciful — such as the Pharisees, who were the most religious people around — show forth that they have never really known true mercy. How can one who has no experience with pure mercy exercise it regularly in their own lives?
It has been often stated by theologians and pastors alike that mercy is not receiving what we do deserve. It is mercy that allows God to overlook the sins of His people.
And while it may be theft for that buddy of yours to borrow your favorite hammer and never give it back, it is mercy which looks the other way, silently making a gift out of what was loaned. (You are more than welcome to share more engaging examples of practical mercy in the comments field.)
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
I like that word “see” there. The Greek verb is Î¿Ì”ÏÎ±ÌÏ‰ (horaoÌ„); its meanings are enlightening…
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall stare at God. — Those who are pure of heart not only will see God, but they will be able to gaze upon Him at length. Oh what beauty to behold!
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall discern clearly God. — The pure in heart are not deceived by false gods and goddesses of their or others’ making. No, they understand God, they know who He is. They recognize the Good Shepherd’s voice and they follow Him.
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall attend to God. — What a blessing, for the pure in heart shall abide with God. They will be His companions. Prior to his sin, the pure Adam enjoyed God’s company in the garden of Eden. Those who are pure of heart shall experience the same!
- Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall experience God. — Forgive me if that sounds a bit too New Age for your tastes. That is not my intention. Reading Hebrews 6:4, 5, though, gives us the experiences of a person who is ultimately unsaved. Yet they tasted of the heavenly gift. They were partakers of the Holy Ghost. And they have tasted the good word of God. How much more shall the pure in heart experience God!
It is important to recognize that Jesus made the requirement being “pure in heart.” The Pharisees had outward purity, but their hearts were dead in sin. Many will come to Jesus claiming to have done great things in His name, yet their hearts of stone betray them and they are cast away.
Purity of heart will lead to purity of mind and of action. The heart of a man gives away his passion, his treasure, his desires. And Jesus calls for purity.
How does one become clean of heart? There is only one way, and that is the Way, Jesus Christ. To everyone who believes that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, slain for their sins and resurrected for them according to the Scriptures, He will wash their hearts with His blood, making them as white as snow. The hard hart of stone will be exchanged for a heart of flesh. Repent of your sins, be baptized with water to symbolize your rebirth, and embrace your newfound purity of heart, living each day in newness of life and purpose.
Thus ends part 2. We have seen that the the poor in spirit shall have the kingdom of heaven, that the mourners will be comforted, that the meek will inherit the earth, that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled, that the merciful shall receive mercy, and that the pure in heart will see God. And there are still three more Beatitudes to go. For those who love God and are called according to His purpose, embracing just one or two of these blessings is far from sufficient. Let those who love God exemplify all of these traits, and in so doing may they be the salt and light of the earth.