Summary: When we as Jesus’s disciples show the Beatitudes of hunger and thirst for righteousness, mercy, and purity of heart, we shall be satisfied, receive mercy, and see God.
In my last post, I began our miniseries on developing Christian character with the first part of the Beatitudes. In this post, I teach on the middle three Beatitudes.
Some people find that Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount is too straightforward. Not much of it needs interpretation. Jesus cut through the noise of spirituality. We might find ourselves adding qualifications and clarifications more than He did. In many places, all that’s left is for us to read and obey our Lord’s words.
The Beatitudes have been so interpreted over the millennia that we need clarity once again. As we go through these next three Beatitudes, ask the Lord to reveal to you how you need to apply them for yourself. Let’s get started.
We have already covered the first three Beatitudes of the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and the meek. If you missed that post, you can click on it here to get caught up. My introduction to the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes applies here. Here is teaching on the next three Beatitudes
Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
As we discussed in my first post on the Beatitudes, Matthew presents a more spiritual approach in general than Luke of the Beatitudes. The fourth beatitude in Luke presents the down to earth problem for Jesus’s disciples, who were simply hungry (Luke 6:21a). We imply, “Hungry for food.”
How can you be blessed if you’re hungry? Most people in America do not concern themselves with food. But we have many homeless and poor that think of nothing else. They don’t know where their next meal comes from. And food is one of our basic needs.
So, hunger can happen to anyone. But what if you don’t have any food? Many of us don’t see the blessing in hunger. We will find later that Jesus teaches us God takes care of our basic needs. Hunger for food makes us realize how much we need God to provide for us when we cannot provide for ourselves.
One hungry for food must rely on God to supply. In the sense that we realize our deep need for God’s provision, we are blessed to be keenly aware of how much we rely on and need Him. When we seek God to supply our needs, He comes through. It may not be when we wanted Him to or how, but Jesus promises God looks after His creation. Only He can satisfy our hunger from His abundance.
In my teaching on the Lord’s Prayer, I talk about the request, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3). We must daily seek the Lord for our every need. We trust Him to provide. Many times, we look to our resources to fulfill our own needs. How often do you ask the Lord to fill you when you’re hungry? Perhaps the blessing is in realizing our hunger for food and learning to seek the Lord for our needs.
Matthew presents another perspective of hunger and thirst, that we are hungry, and he adds thirsty, for righteousness. We see much injustice in our world. Even worse (if it can get worse), we see apathy for righteousness. People don’t have the stomach to see justice.
We know the Lord will bring justice and righteousness to the earth, but that will be at the end of time. So, if we are not careful, we become jaded at human ideals of justice. We may not even cry for justice until we experience injustice.
But when we come to the place where we hunger and thirst, deeply desire, to see righteousness in the world, and to realize on the righteousness Jesus imparts to us, we cry out to Jesus. We need righteousness and justice, godly examples of righteousness and justice, to save this world from its wickedness.
Jesus put us in this world to show righteousness to others. Look for opportunities to be just. Be the righteousness you hunger and thirst to see around you. But when you can find none, Jesus will show you righteousness. And in this way, you will be satisfied.
The same word for “satisfied” in the original language appears in both Gospels. Only Jesus can satisfy our desire for righteousness and justice. We may not experience it now, but we will see God’s justice poured out of righteousness at the end of time.
Be Merciful to Others
Next, Jesus proclaims that those who show mercy to others will receive mercy. Only Matthew has this beatitude. To show mercy, you must show compassion and sympathy for their plight. Let us not forget Jesus has shown us mercy.
But if we don’t show others mercy, we will not receive mercy. Jesus does not clarify if it is by Him or by others. We should understand that it may be we don’t receive mercy from anyone, including Jesus.
Jesus will teach later in His Sermon on the Mound that if we don’t forgive others, the Father will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15). So, perhaps if we don’t show others these Kingdom character descriptions, God will not be obligated to show them to us.
Mercy is something we don’t deserve. Others who violate and persecute us don’t deserve mercy. Those who offend us don’t deserve our mercy. But mercy we must give. It confounds the world when we give mercy rather than judgment.
Judgment is the opposite of mercy, and Jesus will deal with that later in His sermon, in Matthew 7. James observes that mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:11). The Bible makes a difference between judgment and punitive judgment. We can rightly or justly judge a matter or person. But we tend to be critical and punitive in our judgments, condemning a person. This is what Jesus deals with later.
If we must judge a matter, or a person (I will talk about this much more in Matthew 7), let us judge by the measuring rod we wish God to use against us. Let us judge mercifully. Love us, as James has said, let mercy to triumph over judgment. For if we do not, when it comes time for us to be judged, it will be without mercy. Jesus has given us mercy. Led us give it to other in bucket fulls.
Be Pure in Heart
Last in this post, we address Jesus’s description of those who are pure in heart. He says they will see God. Purity presents a clean quality about it. Our hearts as Jesus’s disciples must not be tempted by worldly desires and standards.
Godly people have been hard because they have not been jilted by the world. We don’t allow sin and grime to weigh our hearts down. The Bible connects the heart with the mind. Hebrew makes them almost synonymous.
Our emotions and thoughts must be pure. We must not act evilly by what we feel or think. We must become innocent of evil. We act out of innocence. We don’t understand the wickedness of this world. Nor do we practice it.
Purity also speaks of holiness. The clean and unclean laws of the old covenant exist to show the Israelites had to be morally pure. And we must learn from their example. Surely, those who can be pure of heart will see the most pure Being who ever existed.
It’s no surprise that those who follow the Spirit in lessons of purity and apply them well will see God. When we can be holy, we show the chief characteristic of God’s nature. And by the Spirit’s help, we qualify to be in the presence of the One whose purity and holiness we may behold.
What a joy when one day we will dwell with God forever in the new heavens and the new earth. For then, we will finally have it to the righteousness and holiness of God. Our ability to be pure before then gives us glimpses and foretastes of the future glory and inheritance given to His saints. I want to be there, don’t you? It starts with having pure hearts.
Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you to exude the righteousness of Jesus in every situation. Be just in your judgments. Judge with mercy, pouring it out on people who don’t deserve it. And have purity of heart, innocent of evil. When you do these things, you will see immediately why the Holy Spirit must help you.
We have covered the first six Beatitudes. Next, we will discuss the final three Beatitudes of the peacemakers, persecuted, and being reviled by the world.