January 25, 2024

The Beatitudes: Aligning Your Motives & Actions

In this episode, Casey and Whit talk about the last four beatitudes which urge us to be merciful, pure of heart, a peacemaker, and to expect opposition. What does it look like to live this out in 2024?

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One of the most important things about Christianity is that it’s more than an adherence to certain beliefs. It’s not a passive acceptance but a dynamic process of becoming.

Faith without works is dead: What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? (James 2:14-16).

Our faith is an embodied faith–– a way of life as taught and demonstrated by Jesus. He provides a road map to this path of becoming in His Sermon on the Mount.

Let’s take a look at the last four beatitudes.

1.“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

When we think of mercy, we often think of feelings of pity or compassion. Though it may begin with these feelings, the kind of mercy Jesus is talking about isn’t a “bless your heart” kind of mercy.

This mercy is a call to action, a selfless involvement in the problems and situations of others. We truly love people when we enter into their world and make their problems our problems.

This is the very center of the gospel. Jesus came to literally take on our condition and bare a burden we couldn’t. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Mercy requires us to operate in a way that lifts our eyes, allowing us to not focused solely on ourselves or our problems.

You must first receive mercy before you can give it.

Mercy can only be extended from a place of knowing that you yourself have received it. Philippians 2 reminds us, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

When people experience life-altering mercy it changes their whole orientation to the world. It’s a humbling reminder that we have been extended grace we could never deserve. As recipients of God’s boundless mercy, we are called to extend the same grace to those around us, thereby ushering in God’s kingdom of love and reconciliation.

We challenge you this week to show mercy in the places God prompts and the opportunities God gives. Be open to let Him guide with humility and wisdom.

2.“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Purity of heart does not mean that you’re perfect inside. It means you’re an integrated whole – not double-minded. Your actions and heart are in sync with one another.

Put another way, your internal motives and your external actions match.

This means that even if your actions are aligned with Scripture, when your inner motive are not, your actions are hollow and bankrupt. 1 Corinthians 13 puts it this way, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”

This call to a purity of heart is a call to repent not only for the wrong things you’ve done, but the right things you’ve done for the wrong reasons. In his book The Prodigal God Tim Keller explains, To find God we must repent of the things we have done wrong, but if that is all you do, you may remain just an elder brother [from the story of the prodigal son]. To truly become Christians we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right. Pharisees only repent of their sins, but Christians repent for the very roots of their righteousness, too. We must learn how to repent of the sin under all our other sins and under all our righteousness—the sin of seeking to be our own Savior and Lord.

In Luke 15, we see the parable of the prodigal son.

This parable reveals two ways to live like you want to. The first, is to go out and do whatever you want just as the younger son did. The second, is to do all the right things  out of a sense of self-righteousness. Both brothers were living for themselves and putting their ultimate hope in things other than God.

When our hearts are rightly oriented toward God, right action follows. But right action does not necessarily mean right motive.

True purity of heart involves aligning our thoughts, desires, and actions with God’s will, regardless of external recognition or reward. It requires introspection, repentance, and a continuous pursuit of righteousness, knowing that God sees not only our deeds but also the motives behind them

Invite God in to search your heart and help you become truly whole. Make Psalm 139:23-34 your prayer:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

3.“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

What is peace? The word peace in this context comes from the Greek word for shalom, “irane” –it’s the idea that things are how they should be.

This picture of making peace is much more in-depth than we might think. It’s more than separating two people in a fight. It’s doing the hard work relationally of really getting to the bottom of things.

True peace is not just the absence of conflict. Peacemaking transcends the passive avoidance of confrontation; it requires proactive engagement in resolving conflicts and fostering reconciliation.

Just as Jesus reconciled humanity to God through His sacrificial love, we are called to bridge divides and promote harmony in our relationships and communities.

Peacemaking demands humility, empathy, and a willingness to bear the discomfort of confrontation for the sake of healing and restoration.

Ultimately, we must first be in right standing with God before we can truly bring shalom to those around us.

4.“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The last two beatitudes acknowledge the inevitable opposition faced by those who faithfully follow Christ. Throughout history, countless martyrs and saints have endured persecution for their unwavering commitment to truth and justice.

There’s a cost to following Jesus. When you’re part of this kingdom, your life is going to move in the opposite way of the world. Holding opposing views about life, marriage, etc., than the broader culture can lead to persecution.

When you live out these beatitudes, your life is going to look different. To some people, that difference is bad. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to stand firm in our convictions, even in the face of adversity. Persecution, far from being a deterrent, is a testament to our allegiance to the kingdom of God.

Jesus promises that when you do suffer for His name, you will be blessed and your reward will be great in heaven.

The Beatitudes serve as a blueprint for Christian discipleship, guiding us on a journey of faith and action. They challenge us to reflect the character of Christ to the world.

In embracing the Beatitudes, we embrace a holistic way of life that transcends mere belief, shaping our attitudes, behaviors, and relationships. May we, as followers of Jesus, continually strive to embody the Beatitudes in our daily lives, ushering in God’s kingdom of love, justice, and peace.

 

Show notes:

Check out the message: How to Be a Merciful Follower of Christ

 

 

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