In this article, I would like to continue what was begun in the last article, that is, looking at and understanding the 7 character traits of the “Beatitudes” as found in Matthew 5:3-9. We have already covered the first 3 (poor in spirit, mourning over sin, gentleness/meekness). As previously stated, there is a clear progression of events, one thing leading to another even though the beatitudes are part of a packaged deal. It all begins with repentance, coming to God as you are and reaching out to Him in desperate need.
That is when you are born again and the character traits are given to you. Now let us look at what continues to happen to those who receive these character traits.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
I. He hungers and thirsts for righteousness.
As I have stated in earlier articles on this subject, righteousness means “being right with God”, according to God’s standards and not our own. God’s standards are found in His Word, the Bible. A person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness must have a great desire to know the Word of God. Jesus uses a great image when He says hungering and thirsting. All of us know what it is like to be hungry and thirsty. It is not something that happens every once in a while or once a week or even once a day. We constantly hunger and thirst which causes us to be dependant on food and water. When we constantly hunger and thirst for righteousness we also become dependant on the Word of God. We do not quench our hunger and our thirst with one meal once a week but instead, we constantly eat and drink throughout the day, every day. The same must be true for our spiritual hunger and thirst for righteousness. We must constantly feast on the Word of God. The psalmist says it best in Psalm 1 when he write the following:
To meditate day and night means to study the Word, to ponder on what you lean, and to speak about what you have studied and pondered on. It is possible to meditate on the Word of God day and night. When the Word of God is constantly on your mind, then your attitude is impacted in a positive way, which leads to positive actions. A person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness lives according to the teachings of the Bible. Do you hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness? Do you constantly quench that hunger and thirst with the Word of God? Do you spend time in the Word of God on a daily basis or is it something that you do one hour a week on Sundays? Would you like to start a diet where you just ate one meal once a week? How many people are on that type of spiritual diet?
II. He is merciful.
In order to understand “mercy” we need to see the original intent used by Jesus Christ. The Greek word for “mercy” is “eleeo” and it means “to help one afflicted or seeking aid, to bring help to the wretched, to have compassion, to have pity on”. Mercy means more than feeling bad for someone’s terrible situation. It means seeing the need and meeting it according to your ability. What would make a person want to be like this? The answer lies on the Word of God.
“The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth; (Exodus 34:6)
God is the source of mercy because He is compassionate. He chooses to have mercy on us and to show us mercy through action.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Mercy is active and it begins with God. Since God is merciful, He shows His mercy. While we were dead in our sins (slaves to our flesh and enemies of God), He chose to come to us and meet our needs. He sent Christ to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins as well as to resurrect, setting us free from our slavery to sin. Once we have received and experienced God’s mercy, then we want to show it to others. We see the needs that people have (the greatest being their spiritual need, to be set free from their slavery to sin) and when we are able, we meet their needs. We have mercy on all, even those who treat us as enemies. Part of the Lord’s Prayer, which is in the Sermon on the Mount says the following:
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Mat 6:12, 14-15)
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven (Mat 5:44-45)
Have you experienced God’s mercy? Do you have mercy on others? Do you see people’s need of being set free from their slavery to sin? Are you ready and willing to share the Good News (Gospel) with them so that they can be set free by experiencing God’s mercy? Maybe you are the one who needs to experience God’s mercy, if so, now is the best time to do so because the Bible says that
behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION (2Co 6:2)
III. He is pure in heart.
A clean heart or conscience is something that many would love to have yet seems something impossible. God wants us to have a clear conscience and He has made it possible through Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul received a clear conscience, even though in his past, he was a murderer and persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ. Here is what he says about himself.
I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, (2Ti 1:3)
He met Jesus Christ and his life was transformed. He was changed from an evildoer to a saint. From a persecutor of the Church to a defender of the Church. The author of Hebrews (whom I believe was Paul) writes the following about Jesus Christ and what He can do for us.
how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:14)
Have you received a pure heart (clear conscience) from God? Do you run away from sin and temptation so that you can keep your conscience clean? Do you share this good news with others (the fact that we can have a clean conscience)?
IV. He is a peacemaker.
The final quality in our list of 7 is being a peacemaker. From the word itself, we see that a peacemaker is an active person. Seeking to make peace is not a passive state, instead, it is an active one. The English word “peace” is the translation of the Greek word used by Jesus Christ, “eirene” and it means, “a state of tranquility, harmony, concord, security, safety”. How does a person find true peace?
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa 9:6)
This is a prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus Christ. He (Jesus) is the prince of peace. He is the One who can offer peace, true peace to people who live in a fallen world where there is no peace. Jesus is ready to give us peace. He gives peace to those who are His followers.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. (John 14:27)
Those who have peace want to share that peace with others. They seek to make peace with others. A peacemaker takes initiative. Jesus speaks of this in the Sermon on the Mount.
23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,
24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)
Peace is important and we as peacemakers must do all that we can to have peace with others. In some cases, even when you do all that you can, some people do not want to have peace with you. That is not your problem. You are to pray for them and do all that you can to have peace with them and leave the rest of it in the hands of the other person and the hands of the Lord. Paul explains this when he writes:
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (Rom 12:18)
If possible is the key here. You must do all that you can.
So my dear friend, are all of these character traits a part of your life? Do you hunger and thirst for the Word of God and obedience? Have you experienced God’s mercy and do you actively show that mercy to others (even your enemies)? Have you received a clear conscience from the Lord? Do you live to keep it clean on a daily basis? Are you a peacemaker? Do you seek to make peace in every circumstance? These are all real life things that we need to have and if they were to be applied then the world would radically change. Relationships would be restored. People would be shown mercy. People would seek to serve one another and on and on. It all begins with God. If you hunger and thirst for Him then He will satisfy you and these other qualities will begin to manifest themselves. May God help us learn how to serve Him.