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Matthew 5_1-12

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Kingdom Attitudes                                             Matthew 5:1-5:12

Someone has called Matthew 5:1-12 the “Be” attitudes of the Faith. What’s your attitude toward God? Jesus lists several attitudes here in the first part of the Sermon on the Mount that challenge us all. Actually, they show the way to spiritual maturity in 8 steps. Four are internal and preparational and four are external and expressional. Let’s look at these together and hear the voice of our Lord speaking to our hearts and minds, calling us to his own attitude. Calling us to hold his attitudes and practice them in our lives.

Mat 5:1 And when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
2 And opening His mouth He began to teach them, saying,
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

I love the way Matthew begins this. Jesus, the Word of God is about to speak to us. Notice the compact detail here. He sees the multitudes, He goes up, sits down, gathers the disciples and then Matthew gets very specific. Jesus opens his mouth. Right. What’s the point? Matthew’s formality here depicts Jesus as preparing to proclaim an oracle. Some translations cut out the formality here and just say “he began to teach them, saying.” NIV does this. I believe that takes something away. Matthew intentionally drags out the details here in a three-fold introduction. Jesus opens his mouth, he teaches them, he is saying. Matthew could have simply put it, “Jesus said.” But what follows is so important that Matthew doesn’t want you to get there unprepared. So let’s prepare ourselves for these words of our Master. Open your hearts and minds. Receive the lessons taught. Listen carefully to what Jesus says. Blessed… 9 times Jesus uses this word. It means one who has received a gift or favor from God. We are not just talking about “happy.” Blessed is the opposite of cursed. One is a favor the other is a punishment.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Who are these? People who recognize their own poverty spiritually are blessed by God. This is the first step into the light of truth. It is the first step of recognizing our condition before God. To be poor in spirit is more than to be humble, it is like comparing myself to the perfection of Jesus and seeing the truth and accepting it as truth. I not only do not measure up, but I am like a miserable beggar standing by a King. Remember the story of the publican and the Pharisee Jesus told about who were going up to pray? One bragged on himself before God. One wouldn’t even look up, but begged, “Lord have mercy on me a sinner!” Which one was poor in spirit in his own eyes? Which received God’s blessing?

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus will begin and end these eight steps talking about the kingdom of heaven. But the person who recognizes his spiritual poverty can’t stop there. This is only the launch pad for abundant blessings from God.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. After recognizing my spiritual condition, it ought to bring me grief. Have you ever known someone who was deep into sin and knew it, but wasn’t sorry about it at all? One who is honest about their spiritual poverty but who is not moved to godly sorrow can’t know God’s grace. You can’t see yourself as a sinner and look by faith at Jesus suffering on the cross for our sins not be moved to mourn. But there is comfort in Christ for the man who mourns because of his sin. In fact, this very attitude leads directly into the next.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. This word meek is translated gentle, submissive and humble in other places. Follow Jesus on this. A person sees his spiritual poverty, he grieves over it, and comes in meekness before God, willing to submit to God’s will and way. Jesus said God will give the whole world to people like that. All through the Bible God sees the proud and takes their stuff away and gives it to the meek who love him. God humbles the proud and exalts the humble. And then next Jesus says,

“Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Again this naturally follows the meek person who comes to God in submission and now develops a spiritual hunger and thirst for what is right in God’s sight. Righteousness. Jesus says, they will be filled. Have you noticed that nothing in this world truly satisfies. This world is full of promises that it can’t keep. It pacifies, but it never satisfies. But Jesus pronounces God’s blessing to satisfy us. Only when you have a heavenly appetite can you find full satisfaction. With this we complete the internal attitudes. Notice how these now are applied in the life of one who follows after these blessings. Next we look at four externals that Jesus pronounces God’s blessing on.

7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
12 "Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Look at number five… blessed are the merciful, and what do they get? Mercy. This follows on the heels of those that hunger and thirst for righteousness. People who want what is right so badly they can taste it may need the balance of this attitude. Don’t love what is right so much that you fail to have mercy on those who are wrong. It’s right to be merciful too. In fact, if you want mercy, show it to others. Giving it is the only way to get it. Aren’t you thankful for merciful people! Mercy is a vital ingredient in any relationship. Can you imagine a marriage where mercy is missing? Imagine a church without mercy among the members. Showing mercy is the fruit of one who has seen his condition before God, grieved over it, meekly submitted to God, and come out hungry for what is right in God’s sight, then see this all as a gift of God’s grace. Merciful are those who recognize the mercy of God shown to them.

But another balance comes next. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Mercy doesn’t mean sacrificing purity. Purity stands for clean, innocent, and sincere. Jesus shows us that our vision of God is only clear when we have a pure heart. You can’t see God and be phony. You can’t see God and have wrong motives in your heart. Pure hearted people got that way by the earlier blessings of God. They had to see themselves in spiritual poverty, grieve over their sins, meekly submit to God, develop a taste for righteousness, become merciful.. to these God cleanses their hearts and shows them himself!

When you’ve seen God, you’ve found peace. More than that, it’s time for you to help others find it. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Think about this with me. Seeing God and being called his son! What a blessing! Pure hearted Peacemakers: these are on the top of the list of the life God blesses.

Notice Jesus didn’t say a peace "lover," but a peacemaker. Some people don’t really love peace, they just hate conflict. They flee every time they see conflict. Peacemakers are God’s children and they can’t help but share the peace of God with others. Peacemakers enter the conflicts that darkness and sin bring into the lives of people. Peacemakers work to build God’s peace there. Not everyone appreciates the peacemaker’s work. There are many persecutors out there. They don’t see their own spiritual poverty and are offended when told the truth. They are not grieved over their sins, in fact, they embrace them. They are not submissive to God in meekness but are filled with pride and blinded by selfishness. They are not hungry and thirsty for righteousness but are driven by cravings of fleshly passions and sinful desires. Their cravings are never satisfied. Instead of mercy, they have tolerance for sin. Instead of pure hearts that see God they have wicked hearts that see only darkness. Instead of making peace with God they persecute his children.

And so Jesus concludes his beatitudes with this final blessing. This one he stresses and elaborates on the most. 10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Then Jesus makes it personal and directly applicable: (note the pronoun shift)
11 "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
12 "Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Now that’s a position of spiritual maturity. A person who like Jesus, will endure suffering for the kingdom. The first suffering that receives a blessing is the suffering for sin within, the final suffering that receives a blessing is the suffering for sin without.

Where are you on this ladder of blessings? Have you seen your spiritual poverty? Have you mourned over sin in your life and in others lives? Have you meekly submitted to the will of God? Have you developed a strong appetite for God’s righteousness? Are you merciful toward others? Is your heart clean enough to see God? Are you building God’s peace in the world around you? Are you enduring the world’s resistance to Jesus in your life?

Jesus says that heaven will surely be worth it all! People endure hardship and difficulty in life for so much less. Is not heaven worth the sacrifice? God thought so, that’s why he sent Jesus. God thought that saving you for heaven was worth sacrificing his only begotten son on the cross. Worth it? Will you say yes to Jesus and no to sin? What is your condition before God today… right now? Would Jesus look at you today and say, “blessed are you?” Or would he say something else?

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