by Tiffany S.
from Virtuous Daughters, June/July 2020~Volume 20, Number 2
What a rich blessing it has been to dig into the Scriptures and study Matthew 5:3-12! As I read and prayed through these verses, I was challenged to go deeper in my own walk with the Lord. I hope that the following thoughts will be an encouragement to you as well...
The Greek word for "blessed" in this passage literally means "supremely blessed." It is the same word Jesus used when speaking to Thomas about those who believe without sight. He also used this word when encouraging the disciples to follow His example in washing their feet. (See John 13:17 - the English translation here is "happy.") Christians who live out the beatitudes are promised this type of blessing.
It's important to remember that God looks at the heart. Embracing the beatitudes should not be a check-list process of trying to "put on" certain character qualities. Rather, it should be a prayer as we ask God to make these attitudes real in our hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit. In this way, the actions will inevitably follow! The old quote, "Thoughts lead to attitudes; attitudes lead to actions," is certainly true.
The desire to grow in Christ-likeness and become young ladies who exhibit the beatitudes begins with our thoughts. If we entertain thoughts of self-centeredness, yet try to give to others through the effort of our flesh, we will not experience victory. We must ask God to change us from the inside-out. Only the transforming work that He does in our hearts is lasting and effective. "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before Him." Ecclesiastes 3:14
As an example, earlier this year as I read through the Gospels, I noticed how often Christ demonstrated compassion. The Lord convicted me of ways I should show more compassion toward others, and He brought to mind Matthew 5:7. My prayer became, "Lord, show me more of Your mercy, so that I can share it with others." I was truly in awe at how God answered this prayer. It was not by working through a book about the character trait of mercy or following a ten-step program toward becoming a merciful person. Rather, it was as I gazed on the mercy of God - learning Who He is - that He began to develop in my heart a greater compassion for others.
Blessed indeed! God blesses in amazing ways when we seek to honor Him. In addition to the joy and fulfillment that came as I sought to demonstrate His mercy toward other people, He also poured out blessings that I knew were only because of His mercy...as I recognize how undeserving I truly am.
Remember that the ultimate blessing is not in what we receive in this life, but in the fellowship we have with Christ now and all that we look forward to in eternity with Him. Jesus said, "...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) Also see Genesis 15:1, Psalm 16:11, Ruth 2:12, and Hebrews 6:10-12.
The Poor in Spirit
Matthew Henry shares the following insights regarding the "poor in spirit": "It is to come off from all confidence in our own righteousness and strength, that we may depend only upon the merit of Christ for our justification, and the spirit and grace of Christ for our sanctification. That broken and contrite spirit with which the publican cried for mercy to a poor sinner, is this poverty of spirit. We must call ourselves poor, because always in want of God's grace..."
I believe that the description "poor in spirit" implies humility; but more than that, it implies brokenness. I think of an utter dependence on God, recognizing our inability, inadequacy, and unworthiness. Dear girls, do we realize just how much we need the Lord?! Or are we confident in ourselves, that somehow, we are righteous and justified before God because of something we have done? Lest we forget, take a moment to recall the true description of our hearts and lives, even the very best we can muster:
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9 "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Isaiah 64:6 "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." Ephesians 2:2-3
I find it so interesting that the poor in spirit are promised the kingdom of God, because it is absolutely essential that we acknowledge our desperate need in order to receive God's saving grace for salvation.
The Greek for "poor" in this verse literally means a beggar. This is interesting, because we know that as wretched sinners, our only hope is in God's mercy, through Jesus Christ His Son! There is no other way! "Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy; to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine." Psalm 33:18-19 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." John 14:6
Other applications can be drawn from this beatitude as well. Have we learned to be content? Maybe God has withheld certain material "blessings" or desires in this life, but are we thinking with an eternal perspective? Do we realize how fleeting our time on this earth truly is (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)? Do we focus on building treasures in heaven (Luke 12:33)?
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of God." Matthew 5:3
They that Mourn
I remember a time in my life when I mourned as I never had before...yet through that, I was comforted by God Himself in a way that I had never experienced before. It became a sweet season of rich fellowship with the God Who puts all our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8)! Indeed, because I was grieving, I received a blessing.
Though some pain and mourning will not be completely erased in this life, we have God's promise of perfect comfort in heaven. "For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." Revelation 7:17 "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4
Next time you experience sorrow, allow it to drive you closer to Jesus. Instead of asking "why," let Him comfort you with His love and the truth of His Word. As the hymn says, "it will be worth it all when we see Jesus!"
"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
The Greek meaning for this word implies humility. It is the same word Jesus used to describe Himself in Matthew 11:28-30. I find it so interesting how very opposite God's value system is from the world's. He tells us to give in order to receive (Luke 6:38), to be humble in order to be exalted (Matthew 23:12), to surrender to Him in order to have rest (Matthew 11:29), to serve others in order to have joy (John 13:14-17). God's blessing reserved for the meek is similar. "The LORD lifteth up the meek..." Psalm 147:6 "The LORD taketh pleasure in His people: He will beautify the meek with salvation." Psalm 149:4
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5
They which do Hunger & Thirst after Righteousness
This beatitude has always been special to me. The Lord blesses an insatiable desire for Himself. It's amazing the unique way that He does that...He fills us completely, yet keeps us longing for Him at the same time. It is different than any other desire.
What is better to hunger and thirst for than Jesus Christ, Who is perfect righteousness? Ultimately, God loves and draws us first (John 6:44, 1 John 4:19). Yet He also promises that when we seek Him, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us (James 4:8). My prayer is that I would be able to echo David's heart cry: "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple." (Psalm 27:4)
Dear girls, may we seek to "follow hard after God" (Psalm 63:8). Truly, "He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." (Psalm 107:9)
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6
The Greek meaning of the word "merciful" here essentially means "compassionate." All throughout Scripture, we are commanded to have compassion on the poor. (See Psalm 41:1 for one example.) Why would this be? Well, think about it...when God saved us, He certainly lavished mercy and compassion on us, poor and needy wretched sinners though we be. His love is reciprocated when we demonstrate mercy toward others.
There are many applications to this beatitude. One would certainly include having a heart of forgiveness toward those who wrong us. In light of what God has forgiven us, this really should not be too difficult! (See Ephesians 4:32.) Another way to show mercy is to take interest in and care about other people, rather than being self-focused. Do we rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15)?
God promises that the merciful will obtain mercy. What exactly does this mean? We should remember that ultimately, God is the One Who lavishes His mercy on us. Psalm 18:25 explains, "With the merciful Thou wilt shew Thyself merciful..." There will likely be times when other people are merciful toward us, but ultimately the mercy they are showing is a blessing from God Himself.
On a practical note...as I mentioned earlier...this is an area God has been working with me on. As I have prayed for God to give me a greater understanding of His mercy toward me, this has increased my desire to show mercy toward other people. It has been a joy to look for practical ways to be more proactive about helping bear others' burdens through prayer, sharing Scripture, a listening ear, or acts of service.
I hope that the following thoughts by Matthew Henry are a blessing to you: "They shall obtain mercy; mercy with men, when they need it; he that watereth, shall be watered also himself (we know not how soon we may stand in need of kindness, and therefore should be kind); but especially mercy with God, for with the merciful he will show himself merciful, Ps 18:25. The most merciful and charitable cannot pretend to merit, but must fly to mercy. The merciful shall find with God sparing mercy (Mt 6:14), supplying mercy (Pr 19:17), sustaining mercy (Ps 41:2), mercy in that day (2Ti 1:18); nay, they shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them (Mt 25:34,35); whereas they shall have judgment without mercy (which can be nothing short of hell-fire) who have shown no mercy."
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7
The Pure in Heart
The Scripture that comes to mind when I think about this beatitude is Psalm 24:3-4: "Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully."
The Greek definition for the word "pure" in this beatitude simply means "clean." Are we vigilant to keep our hearts pure for the honor of our Lord? Do we guard what we watch, look at, listen to, and participate in? David said he would set no wicked thing before his eyes (Psalm 101:3); I think this would be an excellent goal for each of us as young ladies who desire to glorify God with our lives.
Of course, for those of us who are genuinely saved, we are positionally pure and righteous because we are in Christ. (See Romans 4.) However, the sanctification process continues as we walk with the Lord.
I also think of a pure heart as one that is focused in its quest to know Christ more. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He also explained that we cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24), which demonstrates the fact that it is impossible to truly love and serve God with a divided heart. The Lord has convicted me of my need to grow in this area this year specifically. How often is my heart flooded with competing desires? Psalm 86:11 has become my prayer: "Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name."
I hope these thoughts from Matthew Henry encourage you as much as they did me: "It is the perfection of the soul's happiness to see God; seeing him, as we may by faith in our present state, is a heaven upon earth; and seeing him as we shall in the future state, is the heaven of heaven. To see him as he is, face to face, and no longer through a glass darkly; to see him as ours, and to see him and enjoy him; to see him and be like him, and be satisfied with that likeness (Ps 17:15); and to see him for ever, and never lose the sight of him; this is heaven's happiness. The happiness of seeing God is promised to those, and those only, who are pure in heart. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would it be a felicity to the impure. What pleasure could an unsanctified soul take in the vision of a holy God? As he cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot endure to look upon his purity; nor shall any unclean thing enter into the new Jerusalem; but all that are pure in heart, all that are truly sanctified, have desires wrought in them, which nothing but the sight of God will satisfy; and divine grace will not leave those desires unsatisfied."
"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
A family I know is enduring a very difficult season while graciously opening their home to an unsaved relative. On one occasion, when circumstances became particularly adverse, their son gathered the family to pray...right where they were, in the heat of the moment. Calling on the Lord in this way brought strength and calm to the situation; it brought peace. He was a peacemaker as he looked to the only true source of peace, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
This requires wisdom. James 3:17 says, "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable..." Remember, if we truly want to be peacemakers, we must seek peace through the Lord. Any other effort toward making peace is not sufficient or lasting.
Another way to be a peacemaker is to share the Gospel...what a joy to see other people find peace with God (Romans 5:1). And truly, in doing this, we are recognized as ("called") the children of God, just as Matthew 5:9 promises.
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9
They which are Persecuted for Righteousness' Sake
This is perhaps the most difficult of the beatitudes to truly embrace in the heart. Persecution doesn't generally "feel" like blessing, but we must remember that as believers, we walk by faith, not sight! Jesus calls us to "rejoice and be exceeding glad" because our reward in heaven is greater than any pain we face in this life.
Second Corinthians 4:16-18 comes to mind: "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." For just a moment, consider the deepest suffering you have ever experienced. If you could put it on a scale, it would seem incredibly heavy, right? But if you had a set of scales and could weigh the blessing - eternal blessing - that God is working together for you through that pain, the trial would be like a pile of feathers next to rocks. Of course we know that God uses suffering for His own praise and glory, but this specific glory listed in 2 Corinthians 4 is being created for us. What an amazing thought! What a beautiful promise from God's Word!
I also think of the exhortations from 1 Peter 4: "...Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified....Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf....Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator." The Scripture is full of blessings and promises to those who suffer for His name's sake. It is a test of our faith; are we living for the praise of man (a fleeting reward in this life) or the praise of God (an eternal reward beyond what our minds can even fathom)?
In closing, dear girls, I pray that these thoughts have been an encouragement to you as you seek to walk with Christ. Truly, it is only as we abide in Christ that He can develop His character and produce the fruit of His Spirit in our lives. May we continually look to Christ and delight in Him!
As a friend and I discussed who in the Bible might have been an example of all the beatitudes, we thought of David. Consider these passages that describe some of the ways he exemplified the beatitudes...
We also discussed various Bible characters who modeled these beatitudes and were recipients of the promised blessing in some way. I hope the following examples are an encouragement to you!
The Article Library
This "Library" contains articles that were published in previous issues of Virtuous Daughters. It will keep growing as we continue to upload articles from the 20 years of printing. We pray they are an encouragement to you!