Summary: If you look at the very first beatitude in verse 3 and then look at the last one we just read you will quickly notice that the both end with the same promise. “Happy are those who are poor in spirit...Happy are those who are persecuted... And here’s the
“The Blessing No One Wants”
If you look at the very first beatitude in verse 3 and then look at the last one we just read you will quickly notice that the both end with the same promise. “Happy are those who are poor in spirit...Happy are those who are persecuted... And here’s the promise...theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. These two verses are what we might call bookends. The beginning and the end and they present the same promise. Now want us to look back at what we have said for the past two months. These are the 8 keys happiness that we see here.
Key #1. We must learn to eat humble pie. Humility is a key to happiness. Humble people do not think less of themselves. They just think of themselves less.
Key #2. Joy comes in the mourning. Happiness comes when we learn to grieve over the sin that is in our lives and we deal with it.
Key #3. Happy are the meek. Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is strength under control.
Key #4. We are happy when we are hungry and thirsty for the right things. For the things of God.
Key #5. Practice mercy. This book is a book that teaches mercy. The Good Samaritan practiced mercy while the other 2 men passed the injured man completely by.
Key #6. Happy are those who are heart is pure. Many of us need a spiritual heart transplant. A new heart.
Key #7. Be a peacemaker. With all of the conflict we see in our world, being a peacemaker will not only bring you happiness but it will pour over into the lives of others. All the way back to the book of Genesis we see conflict.
Today we come to Key #8. And I want to read it again. Matthew 5:10-12..
Now when we look at the Big Picture here we see two things that are huge (1) we see 8 keys to happiness. (2) Not only do we see a picture of happiness, we see a picture of Jesus Himself. Listen to these verses. Jesus said:
* I am meek and humble in heart.
* Jesus knew grief. He wept over the death of His friend Lazarus.
* Jesus was always hungry for more of God. While the disciples slept Jesus prayed all night in the garden of Gethsemane. Sweat drops of blood.
* When people objected because Jesus invited sinners to eat with He and the disciples He said it’s not the healthy who need a doctor. It’s the sick. He said go and learn what this means. I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
In scripture after scripture we see that the Beatitudes give us a clear picture of who Jesus was and how practicing these principles can lead us to real happiness. Today we move to the final key. Key #8. And it is probably the most unlikely of all... in fact I call this the blessing no one wants. Happy are those who are persecuted. Happy are you when people insult you... happy are you when people say bad things about you. Let me ask you something, are those the things you look forward to each day? Persecution, slander, gossip, insults? I don’t. But we have to look at the context. We are happy when people do these things because of our faith. Because of Him. If Jesus is the reason for our persecution then we will be happy.
This is what we call a paradox. A paradox by the way is not two ducks. A paradox is a statement that when we first hear it we cannot understand how it could possibly be true. I see 3 of them in this passage.
1. Persecution is a Given in the Christian life. Too many people have bought into the lie that says if you live for Christ everything will be great. We will be successful, wealthy and problem free. There is a Greek word for that kind of thinking. Hogwash. Another one. Baloney.
To be clear the Bible teaches that just the opposite will happen to those who obey Christ. Jesus never taught a “prosperity gospel.” He taught a persecution gospel. Happy are those who are persecuted because of righteousness. John Stott said we should not be surprised if persecution comes... but rather we should be surprised if it does not. Jesus told the disciples that they would face incredible struggles. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me. This is exactly what has taken place in the lives of the apostles.
* Philip was beaten, thrown into prison and crucified.
* James was stoned to death.
* Andrew was crucified and left on the cross for 3 days.