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Steadfast Love

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matt. 5:7

love

Photo Credit: Mercy Health (Creative Commons)

Jesus the poet

The original audience would have recognized the Beatitudes as a form of Hebrew poetry. They form couplets, grouped together in pairs.

  • The poor in spirit, mourning over their sin
  • The meek who hunger and thirst for righteousness
  • The merciful who are pure in heart
  • The peacemakers who are persecuted for righteousness sake

A chiasmus

The first section of the Sermon on the Mount is a chiasmus, making a point larger through a reversal of two or more related clauses.

  • Blessed are the poor and spirit and those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who mourn sin and are peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Holy Spirit and resemble God.
  • Blessed are the meek and pure in heart, for they shall know God and experience His promises.
  • Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness and are merciful, for they shall find satisfaction.

A Hebrew perspective

Although the New Testament is written in common Greek, Jesus may have been speaking Aramaic or Hebrew when delivering the sermon. The Hebrew word used for merciful is Hesed, meaning a strong and steadfast love.

Blessed are those who have a strong, steadfast love for God and man.

A declaration worth dying for

When George Washington heard the Declaration of Independence was signed he requested it read aloud to his soldiers so they would know what many would be dying for.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

A Kingdom worthy of life

When Jesus declares the meaning of life in the Kingdom He uses the words poor, mourning, meek, and merciful. He is not painting a pleasant picture of Kingdom living. At the beginning of His ministry He tells the crowd,

Look, you want to join me, this is what it looks like.”

People were expecting a military deliverer but Jesus dashes their hopes. Blessed are the merciful. Israel did not want a merciful leader but a conquering leader.

Blessed are those with strong, steadfast love, for they shall receive mercy.

The challenge

Recognize your need for mercy and ask God to give you a strong, steadfast love. Display mercy to others!

How is strong, steadfast love being displayed in you? Share your comments below.

Spiritually Bankrupt

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3

poor

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Blessings and Woes

When Jesus was talking about blessing, the crowd understood there were also woes. Luke records several contradictory statements, one  being: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20) and “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:24)

Being destitute before God

Two words are translated “poor”, one meaning poor and the other destitute. Matthew uses the word known as destitute. Someone poor may be able to work themselves out of poverty, but a destitute person is hopelessly in need, they cannot get themselves out of their condition. They end up begging for an existence.

Poor in Spirit

When Jesus talks about the poor in spirit, he is referring to being spiritually bankrupt. The person recognizes their need and correctly responds. They evaluate their condition accurately.

Living in the Kingdom

You enter the Kingdom and live in the Kingdom by continually recognizing your absolute poverty. You have nothing to give and are unable to work yourself out of your predicament. You are a destitute beggar before God.

Seeking to be taught

Begging before God requires being teachable and correctable.  Mature followers of Jesus are not only teachable, but seek out opportunities to be corrected.

Where is the Kingdom?

When living in the Kingdom on earth God’s will is done like it is in heaven. He rules! As people recognize spiritual poverty and remain teachable, they experience Kingdom living.

Allowing God to rule

The more you earnestly plead your condition before God, the more He rules your life. The less you recognize your need and fail to pray, the less He rules.

Needing others

You cannot get into the Kingdom by yourself. By joining arms with the church, you experience the Kingdom. Join ranks with others who recognize their spiritual bankruptcy and live in the Kingdom.

Heaven on Earth

The Kingdom is heaven on earth and is for those:

  • recognizing and acknowledging their spiritual bankruptcy
  • seeing themselves as dependent upon God and pleading for His help
  • evaluating themselves accurately, remaining teachable before God and the church

The challenge

Accurately recognize your spiritual condition and examine yourself. Be teachable, asking God to constantly and faithfully rule your life. By grace you can experience heaven on earth.

What are some practical ways you strive to remain poor in spirit? Share your comments below.