by Mike Ratliff

18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
19 It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud. Proverbs 16:18-19 (NASB) 

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.

1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach 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 gentle, 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 have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:1-12 (NASB) 

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!