by Paul Tautges | May 2, 2012 2:39 am
Continuing our study of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, which we began yesterday, we need to consider five more markers on the road to true happiness.
Happiness comes to those who have integrity of heart (v.8) – Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” However, the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah described the human heart as anything but pure when he wrote, “the heart is more deceitful than all else” (Jeremiah 17:9). Which man told the truth? The answer is both of them did. Jeremiah was describing the human heart as it is naturally, without God, bound in sin. Jesus was describing the heart that has been reborn by the Holy Spirit and has experienced forgiveness and cleansing because of faith in Him as divine Sin-bearer. Hebrews 10:22 compels believers in Jesus to draw near to God in worship “with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” Those who have been cleansed by God through the sacrifice of Christ will “see God” in the sense that they will spend eternity in His presence. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).
Happiness comes to those who seek peace in their conflicts (v. 9) – Why does Jesus call true believers “peacemakers”? I think the Apostle Paul answers part of that question in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” In other words, peace with God is a prerequisite to other evidences of peace, i.e. peace with others. Now, this is not always true in our everyday experience with people. Sometimes, Christians will experience conflict as the direct result of their faith even if they themselves seek peace. Therefore, Jesus encourages us, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The true Christian understands that real peace is found only in Jesus, not the ever-changing circumstances of life. However, this inner peace will also produce an outward peace that impacts our relationships with others, especially other Christians. In Colossians 3:14-15, the Apostle Paul calls love “the perfect bond of unity” and then tells us to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” No one can let the peace of Christ rule in his heart if he does not know God by means of a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Happiness comes to those who love Christ more than crave being loved by others (v. 10) – To be persecuted means to be constantly harassed, or treated poorly. In relation to being a Christian, it means to endure this kind of treatment from the world because of the Christian faith. In other words, Jesus forewarned His followers that because the world did not accept or love Him, but turned away from Him instead, His followers should not expect better treatment than their Master received (John 15:18-19). The Apostle Paul warned the young pastor, Timothy, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). For this reason, Christians who are serious about living out their faith should not expect tender pampering from our ungodly world. If followers of Christ suffer because of their own sin that is nothing to boast of, but if they are afflicted for the sake of His name then “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Happiness comes to those who are ridiculed because of their faith in Christ (v. 11) – This is a most bizarre statement: “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.” How in the world could Jesus expect anyone to be happy while being insulted by those who hate them? The reason is that Jesus draws extra close to those who are verbally assaulted for being a Christian. This is what the Apostle Peter meant when he wrote, “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:14). God the Holy Spirit rests upon believers in Christ to empower, encourage, and embolden them when they are ridiculed because of following Jesus. This is a supernatural ingredient to happiness.
Happiness comes to those who look to heaven, not earth, for their reward (v. 12) – It can be very hard for Christians to wait for their eternal rewards. Instead, we are tempted to seek acceptance, approval, and praise from men rather than God. Unfortunately, the end result is that if we seek an earthly reward we lose the heavenly one (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). When believers in Christ are treated poorly, we need to remember that our Lord not only endured infinitely more than we have or ever will suffer, but also that He promises to reward those who are faithful to Him. Therefore, “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
It should be pretty obvious by now the Bible teaches that happiness is not determined by our circumstances (which are often filled with incredible disappointments), nor by how we are treated by others (which can be incredibly painful), but on our view of God and the reality of our relationship with Him. Though we have considered ten stops on the road to happiness, in reality, these principles are all aspects of one exclusive road. That is, true happiness cannot be found in this life apart from knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Do you know Him? Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). Respond to God’s call:
…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed” (Romans 10:9-11).
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