In Matthew 5:7-9 the Sermon on the Mount now turns to a new set of Beatitudes. The first four Beatitudes related to your relationship to God. These next Beatitudes deal with your relationship with other people. How does God want you to relate to other people? Jesus said in verse 7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Here are three simple Beatitudes that I believe get to the heart of our need in relationships with others. Notice what issues Jesus emphasizes that will enable us to have the best relationship with those we live around. Do you want to get along with those with whom you live? Do you want harmony in your relationships? If you do, then be merciful. Jesus makes it clear that being merciful is essential to good relations with others. Think about this for a moment. What is the opposite of being merciful? Is it being condemning? Do you think that someone who is condemning will get along well with others? I don’t think so. No one likes someone who is critical, judgmental, and condemning.
Now it is interesting that when you look at the Ten Commandments, these commandments are separated into two sections. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. The last six commandments relate to our relationship with one another. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the author of the Scriptures does the same thing here in the Beatitudes. The first few Beatitudes deal with your relationship with God, and then these that we are studying today, relate to your relationship with others.
Blessed are the merciful
However, I think all of us can relate to wanting mercy because we have all failed in our attitudes and behavior with others. Isn’t this why we need mercy? We have all sinned by condemning someone sometime. You know what it is like: Someone offends you and you get angry and resentful, and if you hold the resentment you get very hard-hearted. This is why Jesus believed it was essential to start this whole section off with being merciful. Mercy is fundamental to getting along with others.
Now, why would you need to be merciful towards others? Jesus tells us immediately after commanding us to be merciful, “For they shall obtain mercy.” This is the biggest reason why you need to be merciful – it is because you will then obtain mercy. From whom do you obtain mercy? First, from God. This is a very important point. The Scripture declares that He is merciful to those who are merciful. All through the Old and New Testament you see this message again and again. In Psalm 18:25, David said, “With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; With a blameless man,” literally the upright man, “You will show Yourself blameless.” Or upright. The Lord looks at the way we treat others, and He says, “That's the way I will treat you.” Remember, Jesus said the same thing a little further on in this sermon. He said, “Judge not lest you be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use (which means to measure out), it will be measured back to you.” Therefore, be merciful.
The second reason you need to be merciful is because as you show mercy this action gives you the best opportunity for people to treat you with mercy. Many times we don't consider this result of our actions, but it is a very important one. When you are a merciful person, others will want to be merciful to you in return. Now, this is not always the case. There are some hard-hearted people who are unforgiving and will never be merciful to you. However, in most cases if you are merciful, others will be merciful in return. This is why Jesus said later in this sermon, in chapter 7:12, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” Do you want mercy? If you do, then you need to be merciful toward other people. Now, I say again, you will not always experience mercy from others. Be careful, do not turn and become hard-hearted and cynical when this happens. Unforgiving people are just the reality of living in a fallen world. It has been my experience as a Christian, that most people that you are merciful toward, will return mercy to you.
The third reason you want to be merciful is because you will always be the greatest beneficiary in your own personal life. Solomon declared in Proverbs 11:17, “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.” I have found that people who are resentful, hateful, and unforgiving bring innumerable troubles upon themselves. Note that Solomon says that they trouble their own flesh! Did you know that doctors have found that people who are hardhearted and unforgiving can have physical ailments that result from the stress of these emotions? There are many physical maladies such as ulcers and digestion problems that result from the stress and anxiety of being unmerciful. Now, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that all physical problems we experience are the result of unforgiveness. There may be physical causes that have nothing to do with how merciful a person you are. But, it is clear that a cruel and unmerciful person brings upon themselves many trials of broken relationships and heartache. Therefore, being merciful is good for you – body and soul.
Solomon also teaches, in Proverbs chapter 14:21, “He who despises his neighbor sins; But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.” Happiness is the result of being merciful. Notice that being happy is exactly what Jesus declares here in this Beatitude. Remember the meaning of the word blessed? It means, “happy.” Jesus is teaching, oh how happy is the man who is merciful, because he will obtain mercy from God and from others.
Now some of you may be thinking, "I am not a very merciful person. I have just always been that way. I am just a very hard-nosed. I don't forgive easily. That is just who I am.” But, that does not mean that you have to continue living like that. God is merciful and He wants to transform you into His image so that you become merciful as He is. I have personally found that the simplest and the fastest way to get my heart into a place where I want to be merciful, is to do one thing. I just pray and say, “Lord, open my eyes to all of the times You have had mercy on me. Open my eyes to my own sin, and the forgiveness that You have bestowed upon me.” When you do that, your heart will be softened before Him. In fact, this is the reason Jesus holds off talking about being merciful until this point in the Beatitudes. It is because being merciful is the result of these first four Beatitudes. Mercy in your heart is the result of seeing that you are poverty-stricken spiritually, from mourning for your own sin. Therefore, is there anyone that you are not forgiving? Anyone that you are holding resentment toward right now? It makes no difference whether it was years ago, or whether it was just last week. Ask God to open your eyes to your own sin and be merciful.
I am sure you remember the parable that Jesus taught in Matthew 18:21-35. He related the story of a man who owed his Lord a great sum of money, and his Lord forgave that man all he owed, simply because he had asked to be forgiven. That forgiven man then went out and took another man that only owed a very small sum of money and he took him by the throat saying, “pay me what you owe.” However, this second man also asked for forgiveness and mercy. But, the man refused and threw the other man into debtor’s prison. Notice what Jesus said to this man who had been forgiven his debt, but refused to do the same to his brother. Jesus said in verse 33, “Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you.” Compassion and mercy are what the Lord expected this man to understand and do. Jesus expects you to understand this as well. Mercy is dispensed in two ways: forgiving someone who has offended you, and being merciful to give to those who are needy. Those are the two ways that God has been merciful to you. You will never find true happiness in life unless your social relationships are right. That is why mercy is so essential. Therefore, to whom do you need to show mercy today? Ask God to enable you. Remember, there is no place in life where you imitate God more than when you show mercy to others, because it is the heart of God. In Micah chapter 7:18, the Prophet writes, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He does not retain his anger forever,” Why? “Because He delights in mercy.” The word delights means that God desires and takes pleasure in mercy. Do you delight in mercy?
Blessed are the pure in heart
The next Beatitude is called by most commentators, the Holy of Holies of the Beatitudes. Why? Because the result of being pure in heart is that you will see God. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Now, where was the only place that a man could ever see God? It was in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle or the temple. There, once a year, the high priest would go in and offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people. There the Shekinah glory, the actual presence of God dwelt. This was the only time any man would ever see God.
An important point to remember is that purity of heart is one of the overall themes of the Sermon on the Mount. Throughout this entire sermon, Jesus is after the heart of his disciples. Their hearts must be pure if they were to ever see God. God is also after your heart. Therefore, this Beatitude first relates to your relationship with God; to be pure in heart before Him. However, you cannot truly love others without this pure heart. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:5, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from a sincere faith.” If you want to see the fulfillment of God's commandments in your life, then love from a pure heart toward the Lord, and toward one another is essential. Having a pure heart is the only way for you to learn how to love others. Jesus also said in Matthew 15:19, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies.” Isn't it interesting that Jesus said all these evil things come out of the heart of man. All of these behaviors relate to how you treat other people? Jesus believed that your heart needed to be right with Him if you were to relate correctly to other people. Your heart is where everything begins. Evil thoughts in your heart naturally cause you to think selfishly and angrily toward others. Evil thoughts in your heart cause murderous attitudes toward others. If lust controls your heart then you will yield to adulterous behavior or fornication. Evil thoughts within your heart bring forth thefts, lying, and profanities. All of these evils come from your heart. This is why you need a pure heart! Solomon declared in Proverbs 22:11, “He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend.” Notice, purity of heart gives you grace upon your lips. This attitude of heart will enable good relationships with others. From the Old to the New Testament, it makes no difference, the message is the same. You need to have a purity of heart.
Is it really possible to have a pure heart? You may be thinking right now, I am a sinner. I am corrupt at my core. How could I ever possibly have a pure heart? If you are thinking this way, I want to ask you to think again about what God has said. The Bible says that it is possible to have a pure heart. In Titus 2:14, Paul explains why Jesus came to this earth. He said that Jesus, “gave himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” He came to purify His own special people. He came to this Earth to purify you! If Jesus came to purify people, don't you think He can do it? He has the ability. He has the power to do exceedingly more than we can ask or even think. In James 4:8, James commanded the people of God, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.” Now, if I am commanded to purify my heart, then it is absolutely possible.
But, how do you purify your heart? Let me give you three very simple ways to do this. First, you need to ask for a pure heart. In Psalm 51:10, David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Therefore, if you want a pure heart all you have to do is ask Him to make you clean, to purify your heart. However, keeping your heart pure, that is another story. In Proverbs 4:23, Solomon commanded his son, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” This is how you keep your heart pure before God. You need to be diligent and watchful over your heart and attitudes. When you see your thought life and resulting attitudes evil, you need to go back to prayer and ask Him to cleanse you again. This is why the Beatitudes are so important, they reveal the true condition of your heart.
Second, you purify your heart by just opening your Bible and reading the Scriptures. The Scriptures super-naturally purify and clean your heart. Jesus said in John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Notice, it was the Word that cleansed them. The Word of God is the great purifier of your heart. How does it purify you? The Word brings conviction to your heart, which is followed by repentance, which leads you to change your behavior. So, if you want to keep your heart pure before God, just open your Bible every day and read it! Ask the Lord to speak to you. Ask Him to convict you. Ask Him to purify your motives and your behavior. If you ask, He will do it!
Third, you purify your heart as you by faith choose to obey God. In Acts 15:9, there Peter explained to the leaders of the church how God came and poured out his Spirit upon the house of Cornelius and the Gentiles. Peter said that God “made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Notice it was faith that purified their hearts. God purified their hearts as they obeyed the Word that was being preached to them. Therefore, obey by faith whatever God is commanding you to do. Be diligent about keeping bitterness, resentfulness, selfishness, or any issues corrupting your heart. Be diligent to deal with it. Ask God to cleanse you, and the Lord will give you that pure heart. What will happen to you? You will see God.
What does it mean when Jesus says that men will see God? This statement refers to two issues. First it refers to visually seeing the Lord. One day you will either be raptured off of this planet, or you die and you stand before God. One way or another you are going to see him face to face! This is what the Scripture promises. In 1 John 3:2, the Apostle taught, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” I am certainly looking forward to that day. I want to see Him face to face. Paul believed the same, that today we see and know in part, but one day we will see Him face to face. What a day that will be! Scripture also warns us in Hebrews 12:14 to, “Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Note that the Apostle also connects purity and holiness with seeing the Lord one day. If you want to see the Lord pursue peace and holiness with all men!
Second, this phrase, “to see the Lord” refers to spiritually seeing, knowing, and experiencing Him. This is what is called a Hebraism, which is a literary phrase used to describe something figurative. The best example of a Hebraism if found in Psalm 16:10. David said concerning the Lord, “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will you allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” He is not talking about seeing corruption visually, but experiencing corruption. The body of Christ, after being put in the grave, did not experience corruption or decay of any kind. He was resurrected. Jesus also used the same terminology in John 3:3 where He said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Again, you cannot literally see the Kingdom, but you experience and possess the kingdom of God. This is an important point to remember. No one can possess God's kingdom, or experience it unless they are born again, and have received Christ as Savior. In addition, this spiritual sight is given to you at the moment that you were born again. Jesus told Paul in Acts 26:16-18 what his ministry would be like. He told him, “I have appeared to you… to make you a minister and a witness…I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you. To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” Note that Jesus said that Paul would “open their eyes.” Were these their physical eyes? No. It was their spiritual eyes. Opening their eyes would allow them to turn from darkness to light, or become born again. Therefore, be thankful if you know and have experienced Him. If you have entered His kingdom, then it is because God is given you spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear.
Blessed are the peacemakers
The third Beatitude we want to look at is in verse 9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” This Beatitude reveals your work in this world. You are called to be peacemakers. Every Christian is called to this work. How are you to become peacemakers? You are peacemakers when you encourage people to become reconciled with God. Non-Christians are at war with God today. As you share the Gospel with people you will enable them to find peace in a relationship with the Father. As a result of receiving God’s forgiveness, a person becomes justified from his or her sin. Paul said in Romans 5:1 that when we have been “justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The first thing that I realized after I gave my life to Christ was a peace within, because I had peace with God. There is peace with God, and the peace of God. Therefore, if you want to be a peacemaker, share your faith with others.
You also do the work of a peacemaker when you help people to reconcile with each other. There are many opportunities where you can be a peacemaker. Conflicts happen at work, at home, with friends, and you need to help people to seek reconciliation with others. Someone may be upset and angry with you today. What are you going to do? If you know someone has something against you, or is angry with you, be a peacemaker by seeking to reconcile the issue. Ask forgiveness for you part, and forgive them for their part in the conflict. Paul declared that this is our ministry as believers. He taught in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, ...and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” God has given you His word so you know how to help people reconcile with God and with each other. I encourage you to make a study of the Scripture on this topic. A good place to begin is Matthew 18:15-17. Also, study Matthew 5:23-25. These verses are a great place to start. Also, another question to consider here is, are you being merciful when someone comes to seek reconciliation with you? Are you encouraging others to be merciful? Do everything in your power to reconcile with others. Help your friends to do the same.
Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. This is why Jesus taught in Luke 12:58, “When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.” Notice that Jesus did not say if you go with your adversary. He said when you go. In other words, Jesus was acknowledging that conflict is commonplace in the human experience. You are going to have conflict with your family and friends. This is a fallen world, and so, conflict is going to happen. But, what are you going to do about it when it does happen? Will you be a peacemaker? Notice Jesus said, “Make every effort” to resolve the conflict. What does that mean? It means you do everything in your power to reconcile the problem. It means that sometimes you must go three or four times to try to work things out with people. That is pursuing reconciliation. But, it does not mean that the other person is going to receive you or reconcile with you every time. But, are you making every effort to get it right with that person? Remember, this is the command of Christ, make every effort. If someone rejects your attempts and tells you to leave them alone, that is okay. You have done what you were called to do. That is all God requires.
Now, before we leave this subject of being a peacemaker, let me draw a very important contrast between the God of the Bible and the god of the Koran. I want you to think about this issue because you are very rarely going to hear this information from any of the news media. Everyone is being politically correct today. Let me say this simply and directly; the god of the Koran and the God of the Bible have a completely different teaching on being a peacemaker. How do I know this to be a fact? The Bible declares our God to be a God of peace. In Romans 15:33 Paul said, “Now may the God of peace be with you all.” Five times in the New Testament God is called a “God of peace” because that is who He is. Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” However, the god of the Koran reveals himself to be the exact opposite. Mohammed was told by the god of the Koran to convert people by the sword. Jesus told His disciples in John 13:35 that, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Most people in our government, Republican or Democrat, tell you that Islam is a religion of peace. But, they are just repeating what someone told them to say. If they had read the Koran they would never declare this foolishness. Let me quote several passages from the Koran that make this fact very clear. In Sura 4:89, the Koran teaches that if anyone rejects Islam, “They long that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be on the same level, so take not from among them friends until they flee their homes in Allah's way. Then if they turn back in hostility, seize them and kill them wherever you find them. And take no friend nor helper from among them.” In Sura 8:65 The god of the Koran tells the prophet Mohammed, “Oh, Prophet, urge the believers to fight.” In Sura 9:5, “So when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every ambush.” Again in Sura 9 verse 123, “O you who believe, fight those of the disbelievers that you may find, those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find firmness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty.” Therefore, true Muslim believers are not peacemakers. These passages from the Koran make it completely clear that Muslims are taught to do the exact opposite that what the Bible teaches. Jesus declared to Pilate in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” In 1 Peter 3:11 Peter said, “Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” Is it your desire to seek peace and become a peacemaker? I hope so? A true believer in the God of the Bible will not seek to make converts by force. We will make disciples by persuading the hearts of men that Christ’s message is the truth. This is the teaching of the Gospel. May the Sermon on the Mount capture your heart! Let's go to Him in prayer.
Father, we do come to you today asking that You would give us, that right heart before You. Father, we want to be merciful, because You have shown us great mercy. Lord, open our eyes to the mercy that you have bestowed upon us. Lord, reveal your great grace to each of our hearts. Lord, purify our hearts before you. Keep our hearts in that right place. Make us peacemakers in this world. Give us that boldness of your spirit to share our faith and love with those who do not know You.