A. How many of you have been to an art museum?
1. Do you run through an art gallery, or do you walk slowly and thoughtfully?
2. To really appreciate art, you have to take your time and contemplate the masterpiece.
3. For example, let’s consider Leonardo De Vinci’s famous painting called the Mona Lisa.
a. Every year about 6 million people visit the Loure in Paris to see this famous portrait.
b. Over the years, many questions arose over the identity of this woman in the portrait.
c. It is also the woman’s smile that raises many questions. How is she smiling? “Why is she smiling? What is making her happy and contented? Did she have a secret?
4. Charles Swindoll, in his book, Improving Your Serve, writes: “In the gallery of His priceless works, the Lord God has included a portrait of vast value. It is the portrait of a servant carefully painted in words that take time to understand and appreciate. The frame in which the portrait has been placed is Jesus Christ’s immortal Sermon on the Mount.”
a. Last week, we studied a portion of the portrait, but today we are returning for another look.
b. Today, as we reexamine the portrait, I hope we will be able to see more that will help us become the kind of servant that Jesus has portrayed.
B. In Jesus’ word-portrait of a servant, He emphasizes eight characteristics or qualities. Let’s read them again: (Matthew 5:3-10)
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
1. Last Sunday, we examined the first four, and today we want to examine the second four.
I. A Servant is Merciful
A. In the 5th Beatitude, Jesus declares “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
1. Notice that mercy isn’t something we can do by ourselves or to ourselves.
2. Mercy requires an interaction with someone else who will be the recipient of our mercy.
B. But what is mercy?
1. According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, it is “the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it.”
2. Another defined it as “a holy compassion of soul, whereby one is moved to pity, and go to the relief of another in misery.” (Arthur Pink)
3. When we hear these definitions and we hear Jesus’ command to be merciful, we may be tempted to try to interpret mercy in ways that don’t require us to offer any.
4. We want to reduce mercy to something manageable and something safe.
C. One way to do that is to make mercy synonymous with forgiveness.
1. If we do that then we only need to show mercy when someone does something to harm us.
2. This permits us to remain aloof from others who might be in need.
D. Another way we try to make mercy more manageable is to keep it in the realm of feelings.
1. Feeling compassion for someone is not the sum total of mercy.
2. Mercy is more than being moved with compassion. Certainly it may begin with a feeling, but then it must move forth in tangible, helpful actions.
3. In the book of James we learn that faith without deeds is dead, but so is mercy without deeds.
4. James says, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16)
5. Where there is no compassionate activity, there has been no true mercy, right?
E. Last week, we spent a few minutes talking about the Parable of the Good Samaritan and how it is a good example of someone showing compassion.
1. When Jesus painted this portrait of a servant that includes mercy in action, Jesus shows us the three things required for us to show mercy.
2. First, mercy requires eyes that see.
a. All three men saw the man in the ditch. But, there is seeing and there is real seeing.
b. The beginning of mercy is having eyes that can look upon suffering and not look away.
3. Second, mercy requires a heart that feels.
a. The priest and Levite were moved all right, moved right to the other side of the road.
b. No spark of compassion was ignited in their hearts when they saw the man in need.
c. The Samaritan, in contrast, saw the man and took pity on him. He felt compassion for him.
4. Third, mercy requires hands that help.
a. The Samaritan was willing to roll up his sleeves and put his hands to work.
b. His hands bandaged the wounded man. His hands steadied him on the donkey. His hands took him into the Inn and took care of him. And his hands reached into his purse for money to pay for the man’s continued care – that’s mercy in action; that’s being a servant.
5. Tim Woodroof wrote: “Mercy does what it can, when it can, for whomever it can.”
F. In many ways being merciful like Jesus is reward in itself, but Jesus wants us to know the promised blessing for those who are merciful.
1. Jesus didn’t just say, “Blessed are the merciful.” He said, “…for they will be shown mercy.”
2. When we show mercy to others, it will be shown to us, both by God and by others.
3. Certainly that is not the only reason that we should show mercy, but it is an important spiritual axiom that we can benefit from.
4. There is no telling how many times I have received mercy because I had previously extended it.
5. The mercy that we show someone today may benefit us or someone we love in the future.
6. Mercy is our greatest need, so let’s dispense it by the shovelful.
7. I don’t believe we can err by showing mercy, but we can err by withholding it.
II. A Servant is Pure in Heart
A. So, what is Jesus talking about when He says, “Blessed are the pure in heart”?
1. I think it is worth noting, first of all, that the essence of real righteousness and real servanthood has to do with the heart, not the head nor the hands.
2. Certainly, the head and the hands play an important part in righteousness and servanthood, but they cannot be completely or rightly engaged if the heart is not right.
3. Like the first beatitude (poor in spirit), this quality (pure in heart) focuses on the inner person.
4. Being pure in heart has to do with our motive – are we doing right things for the right reason?
B. The Bible reveals the fact that the heart is the seat of all our troubles.
1. Jesus said, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Mt. 15:18-19)
2. In the OT, Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)
3. That’s why Solomon told his son in Proverbs. 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
C. So, it is our heart that God wants us to be concerned about as we seek to be servants of God.
1. But what kind of purity is Jesus calling for from his disciples?
2. There are two primary aspects to this word translated purity.
a. First, there is the aspect of being cleansed or being without defilement.
b. Second, there is the aspect of being without hypocrisy; to be sincere, unmixed, single-minded or whole hearted.
3. I believe it is this second kind of purity that Jesus has in mind here in this Beatitude.
D. God desires His servants to be “real” people who are authentic to the core.
1. God desires His servants to be free from duplicity and hypocrisy.
2. The word hypocrite comes from the ancient Greek plays.
a. A “hupocritos” was a person who wears a mask.
b. An actor would place a large, grinning mask in front of his face and quote his comedic lines and the audience would roar with laughter.
c. Then the actor would slip backstage and grab a frowning face and come back and deliver tragic lines and the audience would moan and weep.
3. When we wear literal masks, nobody is fooled and it can be very entertaining.
a. But how easy it is to wear invisible masks that fool people and take advantage of them.
b. Doing so brings great harm to individuals and to the church.
4. Real servants who are pure in heart have peeled off their masks.
5. When we serve God and others with a pure heart, then our service has great impact for good.
E. God places a special blessing on those who serve with a pure heart.
1. Jesus declares that the pure in heart will see God.
2. But what does Jesus mean by that? How will they see God? When will they see God?
3. Just as with many of the Beatitudes, the promises are partly fulfilled here and now, and are completely fulfilled in the future after His coming.
4. We people of faith, with pure hearts see God in ways that unbelievers cannot.
a. We see God in the physical world that He so carefully crafted.
b. We see God in the events of history as His sovereign will is made known.
c. We see God in his church and we see God in our lives and sense His presence as He answers our prayers and provides what we need.
5. Yet, none of this present “seeing” can compare with what is yet to be.
a. For as Paul said, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
b. I like what the apostle John wrote, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.” (1 John 3:2-3)
c. This is indeed one of the most amazing promises ever said to human beings.
6. Someday, we are going to see God face to face.
7. If we love God and trust in Him and serve Him with a pure heart, then we are going to enjoy God and spend an eternity is His glorious presence. That is almost too good to be true!
8. Servants with a pure in heart truly see God today, and will see Him even more clearly for all eternity!
III. A Servant is a Peacemaker
A. Interestingly, this is the only time in the NT that the Greek term translated peacemaker appears.
1. So, what does Jesus mean when he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers?”
2. Just who are these people? What kind of person is Jesus describing?
a. Does Jesus mean: Blessed are those who avoid all conflict and confrontations?
b. Does Jesus mean: Blessed are those who are laid back, easygoing and relaxed?
c. Does Jesus mean: Blessed are those who defend a “peace at any price” philosophy?
d. Does Jesus really mean: Blessed are the passive, those who compromise their convictions when they are surrounded by those who would disagree?
3. Certainly, this is not what Jesus means when he says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
a. Just looking at the life and ministry of Jesus, yet knowing that He is called the Prince of Peace, leads us to the conclusion that being a peacemaker doesn’t mean avoiding all conflict or confrontations, and compromising convictions for the sake of peace.
4. I believe that the peacemaking of primary concern to Jesus takes place in the context of our most intimate relationships.
5. Certainly there are implications in peacemaking for how a Christian should act in very public conflictual situations and with obnoxious strangers, but the primary thrust of this Beatitude concerns itself with how disciples are to be peacemakers with their spouses, children, friends, and brothers and sister in the faith.
B. The truth of the matter is that, even for Christians, relationships are a messy business.
1. Like Jesus and his disciples, there are times when we don’t understand the ones we love.
a. There are times when disappointments and frustrations threaten to overwhelm affectionate feelings.
b. And there are times when we are deeply hurt by the very ones we deeply love.
2. What should distinguish followers of Christ from the world are not perfect relationships, or the absence of conflict, but the way disciples treat each other when relationships become strained.
3. We, Christians, should take peace seriously, and when conflict arises we should be seeking reconciliation.
4. The urge to reconcile is the essence of peacemaking.
C. So, how can a servant be a peacemaker?
1. A peacemaker is someone who tries to practice Romans 14:19, “therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
2. A peacemaker is someone who tries to practice Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
3. Or how about Hebrews 12:14, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy.”
4. James 3:17-18 is filled with practical suggestions for being a peacemaker, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:17-18)
a. How’s that for a prescription for peace?
b. That stands in such contrast with the preceding verses that catalog the problems that lead to our most bitter conflicts – envy, selfish ambition, boasting and lying.
D. A peacemaker is one who refuses to give up on the people and relationships closest to them.
1. Servants of God do their best to preserve their relationships by pursuing peace.
2. Perhaps, this Beatitude shows most clearly the connection between all the Beatitudes.
3. We cannot practice this 7th Beatitude without the faithful practice of the first six.
4. Notice how being a peacemaker requires faithfully applying the first six Beatitudes:
a. Poverty of Spirit makes it possible for me to confess – “I was wrong.”
b. Mourning teaches us to say, “I was wrong and I am so sorry.”
c. Meekness causes us to say, “I don’t have to have my way.”
d. A hunger and thirst for righteousness leads us to only want to do what is right.
e. The quality of mercy allows us to forgive others and to be interested in their needs.
f. The quality of purity of heart helps us to act with integrity and honesty in our relationships.
5. Can you see how applying these Beatitudes to our relationships will result in peacemaking?
E. The promise of this Beatitude is “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.”
1. The old saying is true, “Like parent, like child.”
2. Our heavenly Father and our spiritual Brother are peacemakers.
3. What greater compliment can be given than that we resemble the heavenly family?
IV. A Servant Endures Persecution
A. I don’t know about you, but does this Beatitude seem out of place to you, especially on the heels of the last one about peacemaking?
1. But, it is not misplaced, because mistreatment often comes upon those who do what is right.
2. Notice that Jesus didn’t say, “You are blessed if people insult you,” rather Jesus said, “when…”
3. We might ask: Why would anyone want to persecute Jesus or his followers?
a. Why would anyone want to hurt the kind of person characterized by these Beatitudes?
4. It is certainly perplexing, but nonetheless it is true – people who take godliness seriously are likely to find themselves facing serious opposition.
B. It is important to clarify that not every Christian who suffers persecution can claim that they are being persecuted for righteousness.
1. It is possible for Christians to be persecuted for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with righteousness, and in such cases, they may be getting what they deserve.
2. These verses do not say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are odd.”
3. These verses do not say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are obnoxious.”
4. These verses do not say, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because they are self-righteous.” (Holier-than-thou attitude)
5. Truth is: we can bring persecution upon ourselves simply by acting foolishly, not spiritually.
6. The blessing Jesus pronounces here isn’t for disciples who have been persecuted for any reason, but for those who have been persecuted “because of righteousness” (vs. 10) or better yet “because of me (Jesus)” (vs. 11).
C. So who are those who persecute followers of Jesus?
1. Disciples of Jesus are often persecuted by unbelievers – those unbelievers may be co-workers, schoolmates, and neighbors.
2. Additionally, government oppressors persecute Christians, more so in other countries than ours.
3. However, in the culture war in our own country, Christianity is made to look foolish, and the followers of Christianity are usually portrayed in a negative light.
4. I don’t want to downplay the world’s eagerness to hurt those who would follow Jesus, because persecution can and does come from unbelievers, but the bad news I must break to you is that persecution is frequently an inside job and originates a little closer to home.
D. Jesus was persecuted by His own biological family and He was persecuted by the spiritual leaders of His own religious group, the Jews.
1. Hard as it may be to accept, the persecution we are called to endure will sometimes be at the hands of people we know, people we worship with, and people who also claim to be religious.
2. The person behind our persecution may well be someone we thought was a friend.
3. The source of that slanderous remark or gossipy tidbit may turn out to be someone we trusted.
4. So we can expect that persecution will come not just from strangers, but we can also expect that the ones who break our hearts, may be ones with whom we break bread.
5. Nevertheless, we must not let those who persecute us, whomever they are, cause us to quit following our God and Savior.
E. There are times when the only way servants can make it through such severe times of persecution without becoming bitter is by focusing on the ultimate rewards that are promised.
1. The question for us disciples is not whether we will be persecuted, but how we will respond when it occurs.
2. There are three options for us in the face of persecution.
a. First, we can back down – which is what our persecutors want to see happen.
b. Second, we can retaliate and try to make them pay for the pain they are causing us, which is not God’s will for us.
c. Or third, we can rejoice and be glad – which is Jesus’ prescription.
3. Persecution is never fun and the physical agonies or the agonies of insult and rejection are no laughing matter.
4. When Jesus told us to rejoice and be glad when we are persecuted, He was not trying to trivialize our pain or to be absurd.
5. What He was saying is that persecution is both a validation and an opportunity.
6. We Christians can rejoice when persecuted because the suffering says something about our character and provides a chance for our character to shine most brightly.
7. And we can rejoice in the face of persecution because great will be our reward in heaven.
8. When we suffer for Christ, then we are in good company and our reward will be great.
A. I hope in these last two sermons we have been able to dim the surrounding lights and focus our attention on the portrait of a servant that Jesus has painted.
1. Notice Jesus’ expert brush strokes and the creative colors He has employed.
a. A servant is poor in spirit (humble).
b. A servant is one who mourns (able to feel pain and compassion).
c. A servant is meek (gentle and kind).
d. A servant hungers and thirsts for righteousness (passion for holiness and justice).
e. A servant is merciful (forgives and helps).
f. A servant is pure in heart (honest and authentic).
g. A servant is a peacemaker (restores relationships).
h. A servant endures persecution (never gives up).
2. The person who serves in these ways is truly happy and is and will be blessed beyond imagination.
3. Blessed are the servants of God, for they will receive God’s promises.
Improving Your Serve, Charles Swindoll, Word, Inc., 1981, Chapter 8.
Sermons by David Owens: “Blessed are the Merciful.” “Blessed are the Pure in Heart.” “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” “The Blessing No One Wants.”