Summary: This sermon deals with the beattitudes of mercry and pure in heart.
How To Face Life’s Challenges Part III
How many of you had some problems in your home or on the job last week in which things did not go the way you had wanted them to go? One thing about life is, if we keep living, it will keep on presenting us with challenges. Challenges are nothing more than opportunities for us to glorify God in a way we had not anticipated. Every challenge brings the possibility of us discovering new life for ourselves in God.
We are going to continue our look at the message of Jesus in Matthew chapter five. We find in this passage, several ways in which Jesus tells us that we can be happy, fortunate, and blessed in this life in terms of our relationships to each other and to God. We have seen though, that to possess real life, we have to go against the messages we are taught daily in our society. There’s a lot of life we’re missing out on, because our information sources have been providing us with some bad information as to what we need to enjoy life. We do not have to have a lot of power or money to get the most out of life. What we need is a word from the Lord.
I remember reading of an incident that happened in WWII. A group of German soldiers had doused a building with gasoline. They then rounded up a group of Jews from the nearby village and stuffed as many of them in the building as possible. There were men, women, and children hoarded into the building. The doors were locked. The order was given and the building was set on fire. The soldiers had orders to shoot anyone attempting to escape out of the building.
A few years later a Jewish inmate was brought out of a concentration camp into a German field hospital. The inmate was taken to the bed of a German solider, who was mortally wounded. The young soldier confessed to the inmate that he had had a part in the burning of the Jews in the building. He could still see the look of horror on their faces. He wanted to ask a Jew for forgiveness before he died. The Jewish inmate took a look at him and turned and walked away.
If you had of been that concentration camp inmate, what would you have done? What would you have said? Here is this soldier from a people who hold you in captivity, forcing you to live a life that was practically void of life itself. The powerful asking the imprisoned for forgiveness, only to have the imprisoned return to the concentration camp.
Let’s go back up on the mountainside with Jesus on that sunny afternoon as he sat upon the rock teaching his disciples. Now keep in my mind, Jesus’ words were intended for his followers. Therefore if they sound a little strict or demanding, you must always keep in mind, He Loved his followers and always wanted the very best for their lives. Jesus never asks his followers any more than He demanded of Himself.
In verse 7, Jesus says, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." Now here is something that all Christians can practice regardless of their age, their sex, their background or their bank accounts. When we come to Christ, God puts within us an unlimited possibility in terms of what we are capable of doing. The spirit of Christ is present within us. Therefore the very qualities of Jesus have the possibility of maturing in us. Our New Testament reading gave us a command, not an option. It said in Ephesians 5:1-2 "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
All of us who know God, know that God is compassionate, forgiving and merciful. If God was not, we have all blown it enough times for God to have given up on us a long time ago. The Greek word that is used here for mercy is found only here in Matthew 5:7 and in Hebrews 2:17. In Hebrews it refers to Jesus as being a merciful and faithful high priest.
Mercy springs to life when we discover someone has a need and we have the ability to do something about it. To be merciful, we have to actively involve ourselves in meeting someone’s need. We have plenty of people willing to express pity, over a person’s condition. They may say "Oh wasn’t that awful" but then continue on as though there was no reason to expect them to do something about it." Pity evokes a feeling, but it never goes beyond that.