GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus – Sermon on Mount (Part 6)
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 and now, satisfaction in matters spiritual but unseen. It would not make the top 100 goals in much of any list of career aspirations. but that is the point. The Kingdom of God is not of merit or collections in this world but 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 merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7
1. Mercy Received. Being merciful has two parts: first, internal. It speaks of those who give out mercy and kindness to others because they have experienced the same from God. Secondly, externally, it is showing kindness to others because of our internal qualities from a life with God. It is not possible to live a life of mercy and kindness and love toward others if we have not first experienced it from God. This is not general courtesies we often see in life. This is sacrificial mercy given to those who do not deserve it.
The perfect example is the Good Samaritan, Luke 10, who cared for the injured traveler and gave of his time and resources generously. Remember the definition of the NEIGHBOR of the Good Samaritan: IT IS ONE WHOSE NEED I SEE AND WHOSE NEED I CAN MEET. If we see a need, and cannot meet it, that person is not (yet) my neighbor. If we could meet a need, but have not seen it, that person is not (yet) my neighbor. But if we see a need and can meet that need, then that person is my neighbor. He or she is in need of mercy and it is my obligation to give it. James 1:27 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. This certainly applies as mercies given to the household of faith, but also to all men. Matthew 5:44. Love your enemies. This is an unavoidable ethic for the Christian.
2. Then Mercy Given. We all want the chicken before the egg, the cake without the chicken little working for it. Not so in the Kingdom of God. In the darkest times of my life, when I was conceding my behavior to personal deception and sin, and become convicted and aware of it, this beatitude drove me. I was in desperate need of mercy. If I needed it, I certainly was only entitled to mercy because I first was merciful to others. Between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Scriptures, this remains a guiding post for all of us.
God is our unfailing heavenlyFather. He is above and beyond our human fathers, who may or may not have been models for us, in our families, in the shaping of our lives. And our Father in heaven, and our Savior and Deliver in Jesus, and our Comforter in the Holy Spirit. God’s desire for us that we exhibit the fruit of the spirit and at the front of that list, at least logically, is mercy. We do best from looking up from the feet of Jesus. God’s best to you this week. This list will keep getting better and more encouraging each week to come.
— John Moore