More Rewards for the Blessed

| Tue, Sep 10, 2013 | Set 3 Week 37

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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. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matthew 5:7–10

Last week, we saw that the blessed are those whom God humbles. This week, we continue this theme, noting both the humbled people and the nature of their great rewards.

The first reward of four in this list is closely related to the nature of the blessed. Jesus promises God’s mercy to the humble people who show mercy to others.

He taught his disciples to pray, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Why should we pray that way? “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15). Again, only the merciful will receive mercy.

If you’ve lived longer than ten seconds, you know how rampant impurity is throughout all the earth and within our own hearts. Fighting to be pure in heart can be discouraging and daunting because we know that, apart from Christ, we are blind and deaf and dead in our sins. But when your heart is made pure, you are able to see God.

Now, that might sound strange. Wouldn’t you expect Jesus to say, “Blessed are the pure in eyes, for they shall see God”? So the heart is what needs to change for sinners to be able to see God. Paul makes similar statements. For instance, he tells the church of Ephesus that he prays for “the eyes of your hearts [to be] enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18). Again, notice how he says that unbelievers have blind eyes (or are “darkened”) and how the heart of the issue is, well, the heart. “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart” (Ephesians 4:18). In other words, people’s hearts must be softened if they are to be enlightened.

Not only do the blessed see God, they are even called sons of God. And so they are (1 John 3:1)! Those who are sons of God are peacemakers and they therefore resemble their 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 5:45). Just as the Father blesses the evil with sun and rain, so also are the blessed to make peace with all, as much as it depends on them.

And we end this week where the Beatitudes began—with the blessed possessing the kingdom of heaven. Those who are poor in spirit—who pursue righteousness and endure persecution because of it—are given the kingdom of heaven. There, because of the mercy shown to them, they experience fullness of joy in God’s presence as they behold him as his children.

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