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Sep 26 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

September 24, 2017 – Matthew 5:1-16


Intro: We’ve been in the Beatitudes for two months, looking closely at each one

So I think it is time to put them all together
– Jesus’ concern was the formation of a person’s character

G. Campbell Morgan observed that “a characteristic is always a smaller matter than a character. Character is the sum and substance of characteristics.”

• the Beatitudes are specific character traits
– somehow these traits are integrated in one whole person
• this person’s character is consistent with a follower of Jesus
• and citizen of the kingdom of heaven

Remember that in Jesus’ world these his beatitudes were negatives
– and they re negatives in our world too
• they are the things that embarrass us about ourselves
◦ that make us feel weak, vulnerable and needy
◦ they are unappealing and somewhat threatening
• Jesus treated them as positives
– another surprise: Jesus’ did not make a list of typical religious values
• you must have great faith, pray daily, fast regularly, read scripture, go to synagogue
◦ before all those things, there had to be something else
◦ we cannot jump over that something else and “get religion”
• a person thinking, “I can do this religion thing” is not poor in spirit
◦ but just the opposite
◦ Peter after Jesus resurrection was a different man than before the resurrection

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers (Peter followed this with the bravado of his allegiance and Jesus responded with his prediction of the rooster; Lk. 22:31-34)

To begin, the word that links the Beatitudes together: Blessed

The English word bless can refer to: a gift — praise — a state of being
– the Greek word here, however, specifically refers to a state or fortunate condition
• “happy” does not quite cut it – “prosperous” creates the wrong impression
• in our everyday language, we would say “The good life”
◦ when a person is healthy and thriving

I am going to paraphrase the Beatitudes 

Hopefully reading through them we will feel their cumulative effect

Blessed are those who recognize their deficiency, who are so broken and weak they cannot deny it. Unlike those who do not think they need a Savior, the broken know they need help and welcome it, and so they are welcomed into the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who know the pain of a broken heart and those sorrows that are shared by most of the world; people who have experienced this part of their humanness, for there is an end to it and they will find the only true comfort, that which is given them by God’s Holy Spirit.

Blessed are those whose ego has been subdued and tamed, whose hot tempers have been dowsed and whose claws and fangs have been pulled so there’s no more fight in them and they are not a threat to anyone, but can let others go first and be happy for them, for one day they will own the promised land.

Blessed are those who are discontent with the way things are; who no longer fantasize justice for others and mercy for themselves; who long to see people act less like animals and more like a loving human family, because their dream will come true.

Blessed are those who forgive because there is no longer room in their hearts for resentment; who can always find spare change for the indigent; who are known for their compassion, because one day when it matters most, they will be shown compassion and mercy.

Blessed are those whose lives are oriented to the one thing that is needful, who aren’t halfhearted, but are possessed by one passion, because these men, women and children will see God.

Blessed are those who build bridges rather than barriers, who reconcile enemies and restore broken relationships, who help people meet and interact with strangers and discover all the things they share in common, because the people who have God’s peace in themselves and bring it to the world are one with God in character and purpose and will be known as his own children.

Blessed are those who have suffered for trying to make society more loving and kind, those who have found that the world does not share their hunger and thirst for righteousness and for that reason their proposals for peace have been rejected; those who have received, not peace prizes, but disgust and contempt for trying to reconcile the world to Christ, because they are welcome into the eternal life of the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you, when you are insulted, rejected, ridiculed, falsely accused and abused for your devotion to Me and My will, or you suffer for your willingness to be ruined because you risked loving someone you were not supposed to love; you can celebrate and be happy for you are being treated like God’s prophets and like them you will find a great reward waiting for you in heaven.

Putting all the beatitudes together, a certain character emerges

A merciful, kind person will hunger and thirst for righteousness
– they will also grieve for the world as it is
• and for the role they have played in making it this way
◦ that same person will work for peace
• a broken person feels empathy for others who are broken
◦ then mercy flows naturally – if it’s not blocked
– this character that emerges is transparent
• through which the world can see Jesus and the effects of Jesus
• this emerging character is likely to draw persecution

I’m convinced a person can enter the beatitudes at any point

Poverty of spirit can be your doorway, or grief, or peacemaking
– entering any one of these doorways a disciple will be met by God
• then God will walk them through the other characteristics
– but this is not the easy road to glory and often feels more like failure than success
• you wonder, “What is happening to me?” — I will tell you what is happening to you:
◦ you’re being worked — every part of you: mind, heart, body, soul
◦ think of it as spiritual therapeutic massage, which is as healing as it is painful

Conclusion: Through Beatitudes Jesus tells us,

It is okay to be what you are; this is where we must begin
– we being with with reality, with the truth about ourselves
• but make sure to get to the truth about yourself
• then live true to what you are,
◦ because what you are is the condition that prepares you for God
– Jesus Christ is himself the energy of the Beatitudes
• it is him being with us in each beatitude,
◦ developing this character within us, making us a new creation,
◦ that turns the beatitudes from negatives into positives

After the beatitudes, Jesus said to disciples (and the crowd)

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven
 (Mt. 5:13-16)

– he is telling them, “You are what this world needs”
• and he did not add, “When you have completed this training course”
◦ already they fit the criteria
• the world doesn’t need more conquerors, more oppressors
◦ it needs people who know brokenness and grief, empathy and compassion
– looking at them, what did Jesus see?
• not what you or I would have seen
◦ we would have seen overwhelming neediness
◦ beggars with their hands stretched out
◦ a crowd of desperate and helpless abused men and women
◦ most of them earning enough money for that day’s meal
• we would not have seen the very people who held the world together

Whatever else we learn from all of this is that Jesus sees what we cannot see
– we need to ask him to let us see through his eyes
• we need to see others through Jesus’ eyes–of course
• but we also we need to see ourselves through his eyes

Because today he is telling us,
YOU are the salt of the earth

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