Happy Like Jesus (Matthew 5:7-10)
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. ⁸Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. ⁹Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. ¹⁰Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 5:7-10
In these verses Jesus continues his list of “blessed are” statements. He says those who are merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted for righteousness’ sake are happy—blessed. And He speaks from experience—Jesus was all of these things while living on earth. It’s as if He’s saying, “Blessed—happy—are those who are like me.”
Many claim to have the secret to the good life, but Jesus sat on a mountain and taught openly, telling all who would listen, the way to be happy. Mercy, fellowship, adoption, the Kingdom—these are the rewards that await those who obey Him. It is costly and it is glorious. Those who are conformed to the image of Christ are truly happy. But how are we to live this way?
The key to happiness is obedience, something that doesn’t come naturally to us. Mercifully, we are not commanded to figure this out on our own. Jesus modeled all of these things, and He promised to send the Spirit to help us obey.
To be merciful is to show compassion, or to forgive when it’s in your power to do harm or punish. More than feeling bad for someone in their suffering, showing mercy is doing something to reduce their pain. (Romans 12:8b).
Prior to this Sermon, Jesus was ministering to the crowds, “teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people'' (Matthew 4:23). In addition to healing, He freed those oppressed by demons (v. 24). This was mercy in action.
The ultimate example of mercy is God forgiving us, at great cost to Himself, when we deserved His punishment. Jesus, the sinless One, took our penalty on the cross so that we could be restored to God. God’s mercy on us is a staggering picture of suffering and of generosity. As recipients of His mercy, we are to show mercy to others (Luke 6:36).
Jesus met needs wherever he went while on earth. We should strive to be like Him, watching for ways to ease suffering. When you sacrifice your schedule and preferences to serve others, you are being merciful. In the life of the local church this can look like making a meal for a new mom or someone who had surgery, donating to the adoption fund, joining the evangelistic neighborhood outreach, or stopping to meet and pray with someone who is hurting.
Pure in Heart
If you flee temptation in the power of the Spirit, you will be pure in heart like Joseph running away from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39) and Job refusing to glance lustfully (Job 31:1). We must strive for purity of heart if we are to see God, the God who is “of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong” (Habakkuk 1:13). Jesus was without sin and is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). He is making intercession for us even now (Hebrews 7:25). And God has promised to provide ways to escape the myriad temptations emerging from screens, other people, and our own desires (1 Corinthians 10:13, James 1:14-15).
Peacemakers, those who will be called sons of God, bear the family resemblance. They look like their Father and their elder brother, who made peace by the blood of His cross (Colossians 1:20).
If you enter hard conversations, being willing to wound your friend with honest words for his good (Proverbs 27:6), you will be a peacemaker. This, too, runs against our grain. We’re more inclined to keep the peace by avoiding hard subjects, choosing instead to stay silent when we should speak up. But this is not the way of Christ.
If we see a believer caught in sin, we ought to restore him in gentleness (Galatians 6:1). If we see someone wandering away from the truth, we should strive to bring him back in order to save him from death (James 5:19-20). The conversations that go with such restoring and bringing back are not easy. They’re not light or fluffy. They require prayer, courage, and gentleness. Peacemaking is not for the faint of heart. It is vigorous work, but when carried out in the Spirit of Christ, it can bear eternal fruit.
Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake
The bookends of the Beatitudes offer the same possession. Both the poor in spirit and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake have the kingdom of heaven. If you are grieved by your sin and strive to follow in Christ’s footsteps, you will be persecuted. The culture in our day, and in every age, takes offense at people who live for God’s glory, not their own. Twice Jesus promises the kingdom, a more precious possession than any this world can give. This conviction sustained Him in the wilderness when, one chapter earlier, He was tempted by the devil.
In the final temptation, “...the devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9) Jesus knew that to receive power this way would be no blessing. He banished the devil with the Word of God, saying, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10).
No amount of power, glory, or gain can compare to the infinite worth of God’s Kingdom. In the midst of persecution, look to the Son who said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
With whom are you tempted to keep the peace rather than make peace by speaking the truth?
Is showing mercy hard for you? Ask the God of all mercy to enlarge your heart toward those who are suffering.
What temptations threaten your ability to see God? Cling to the promised rewards in these verses as you ask God to purify your desires and sanctify your eyes and the eyes of your heart.
Candice Watters is the Fighter Verses editor. She is married to Steve Watters, Truth78's director of marketing and resource development. Together they wrote Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies. The Watterses are members, with their four children, of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, KY.