GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus – Sermon on Mount (Part 7)
Jesus pronounced, in this His first public discourse and teaching, how to be happy and successful in life. This is happy in the deepest sense, not just satisfied from a good meal, or a winning business or life event, but a deep settled, blessed, what one author called superlatively blessed life. This is fullness consistent with our design as God’s people and in a manner pleasing to Him.
So far in this first of Jesus’ sermons after selecting the disciples, he sounds like He is putting together less than a winning team. He has lifted up the virtues of poverty, grief, meekness, mercy-giving, and now, purity in heart. It would not make the top 100 goals in any list of career aspirations, but that is the point. The Kingdom of God is not of merit or collections in this world, but a life following God in the Kingdom which is eternal.
Now in the next three beatitudes, Jesus lifts up the virtues of being merciful, being pure in heart and being a peacemaker. These are unavoidable and undeniable ethics for the Christian. Again, it doesn’t make for a strong corporate image in the traditional sense! It speaks more of the pilgrim who walks through life humbly and gentle.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8.
1. Characteristics of the Pure in Heart. Jesus continues to instruct about internal life characteristics. The pure in heart are the sincere and honest people, the men and women of integrity. These are ones who are trustworthy, who you would trust with that which is most important to you – family, finances, relationships, reputation. Psalm 24:3-4 3Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? 4The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. These are people who think, speak, and act without hypocrisy. Note: Sincerity or knowledge of God is not enough. It must lead to a direct commitment to the Truth as represented by Jesus and his message. These pilgrims worship God in spirit and in truth. John 4:24:
2. Reward for Pure in Heart: Seeing God. Our values in life are important as we live the years God gives us, but as we get older, our awareness of our mortality increases. One out of one people die. At the end of our life, nothing is more apparent to the believer than the imminent heavenly reward, of being received into our heavenly reward. 1 Corinthians 13:12 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Maybe I am a bit strange, but I am pretty fascinated by funerals. Not only is it a time for those attending to hear again the fullness and freeness of salvation in Jesus, but the reactions are mixed. To some a funeral is terrifying – the inevitability of our mortality. To others, it’s a time of grief mixed with joy for a loved one going home. To us, to be absent in the Love is to be present with God. Blessings to you this week as we move toward the important subject of being peacemakers.
— John Moore