Blessed

by Mike Ratliff

[18] Pride goes before destruction,

                        and a haughty spirit before a fall.

            [19] It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor

                        than to divide the spoil with the proud.

(Proverbs 16:18-19 ESV)

The truly discerning, obedient, Christian who is seeking God’s will in his or her relationship with all in the Body of Christ is not one seeking a fight over every difference. Instead, the stronger brother or sister is to always be about seeking the defense of the conscience of the weaker brethren. In fact, those who are mature in Christ will not seek to have that known among the brethren at all, but are of lowly spirit, but always ready to teach and encourage those willing to be discipled. However, even in this, they know that what they are teaching is what they have received from their Lord and is not of themselves.

[5:1] Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

            [2] And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

            [3] “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

            [4] “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

            [5] “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

            [6] “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

            [7] “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

            [8] “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

            [9] “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

            [10] “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

            [11] “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. [12] Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.           

(Matthew 5:1-12 ESV)

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit?” These are the truly humble, that is, they recognize who God is and who they are in light of that. They know they can do nothing without him (John 15:5). Who are they? The only ones who are poor in spirit, are those who will inherit the Kingdom of heaven. Those who are saved by grace, the regenerate, are the only ones capable of being poor in spirit. What does it mean to be “blessed?” This is the state of well being in relationship to God that belongs to those who respond to Jesus’ ministry.

What does it mean to mourn? Jesus is talking about those who mourn over their sin by expressing godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation without regret (2 Corinthians 7:10). What is this “comfort?” This is the “comfort” of forgiveness and salvation that only those in Christ have.

Who are the “meek?” Meekness is the opposite of being out of control. It is not weakness, but self-control empowered by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Matthew 5:5 is a quote from Psalm 37:11.

In v6 we have a group of people who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” This is the opposite of self-righteousness. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness seek God’s righteousness rather than attempting to establish a righteousness of their own (Romans 10:3; Philippians 3:9). What they seek will fill them. It will satisfy their hunger and thirst for a right relationship with God, but self-righteousness only blinds those lost in it into believing they are good enough in themselves. Their hearts are hard and their eyes are full of darkness.

The genuine Christian is merciful (v7) as God has been merciful with them. However, as James 2:13 says, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” This is why I wonder at professing Christians who are mean, spiteful, and resentful as they refuse to forgive or seek forgiveness.

Who are the pure in heart? They are those whose pursuit of purity and uprightness affects every area of life. This is walking in repentance as a way of life. This is being a living sacrifice, bearing ones own cross, and following Jesus down that narrow path every day. What is the promise? They shall see God, “They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:4 ESV)”

Who are the peacemakers? “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 makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44-45 ESV)”

In vv10,11 our Lord talks about persecution that will come upon those who live according what he just shared. Isn’t that amazing? I just read a piece sent to me by a friend about an initiative by the U.S. State Department in conjunction with the United Nations to “Denounce ‘offensive Speech’ While Upholding Free Expression.” Most of the article was dealing with religious persecution and the paradox that is created when governments try to protect religious freedom while not allowing anyone to be offended by what comes out that. Do you smell forced compromise enforced upon Churches and ministries like this one by the Government so that no one could possibly be offended by our insistence that God’s Word is Absolute Truth?

In vv10,11 our Lord says that we are blessed when we are persecuted, when people revile us saying all kings of evil against us falsely for Jesus’ sake. We should rejoice and be exceedingly glad when this happens. Why? The prophets were persecuted exactly the same way and, by the way, those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, theirs in the kingdom of heaven.

Soli Deo Gloria!

7 thoughts on “Blessed

  1. Amen, my brother – tolerance will be forced on the intolerant. Such is the way of the world, as it tries to manufacture the fruit of the Spirit because it cannot understand them as characteristics God produces in His children. We are not to seek out trouble as a way to develop or prove our standing with God (the world hates Christ and His people already), but we are also not to see such tribulation as God’s displeasure or negligence.

    IF, that is, we recognize God as Sovereign.

  2. Sure! Just go RIGHT ahead and CONFIRM everything….EVERYTHING the Holy Spirit is CONVICTING me of this past week!!!
    Where can I hide from you oh Lord!! Surly not on this site…

    Thanks Mike and contributors for being my cyber-fellowship!

  3. lol Mickey you’re so funny–the hounds of heaven are after you bro and he’s using Mike.giggles.

    I concur and love the beginning of your post Mike. I’m so certain that Jesus was so eager for the disciples to “get it”. He wasn’t looking for a chance to tear them down. I’m certain Jesus was very solicitous and excited to see them full of joy to the point I could see him just jump saying YESssss. We all when we truly love someone want to build them up not tear them down.

    That is the attitude we all should have towards our brothers and sisters in Christ who are the weaker or even if they are stronger than you, there’s certainly something this foot needs that only the hand or elbow can provide. Much of what is misunderstood I believe between brothers and sisters is that we all have different gifts to serve the body with and I think we expect people to have the same measure of faith or the same gift of discernment or whatever. We are not a buncha cookie cutter Christians and if one is not looking in eagerness to find a way to bless the other or build them up but finds themselves trying to fine wrong, then they need to repent. When the other doesn’t then we tend to hurt the other by pejorative language or become pedantic nitpicks rather than seeing it as fitting like a hand in a glove and binding that person up. Remember love builds up but pride puffs up. We’ve all done it from one degree to another.

  4. Nice post. I enjoyed D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ classic work on the “Sermon on the Mount”. Definitely worth reading.

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