Summary: An introduction sermon to a series on the Sermon on the Mount; overview of the beatitudes and how they describe true Christian living.
The word, “colors” has numerous meanings. An early use of the word is flag, pennant, or badge. Early warships often carried flags from many nations on board in order to elude or deceive the enemy. The rules of civilized warfare called for all ships to hoist their true national ensigns before firing a shot. One who waited until the last moment to "shows his true colors" would hail another ship flying one flag, but then hoist his own when they got in firing range.
Folks, the Christian life is not to be about deception—we shouldn’t be pretending to be something we are not; a citizen of this world. You see, if we are children of the living God, our citizenship is ultimately in his Kingdom. As we begin a series on the Sermon on the Mount, today, we will find out what Kingdom citizenship is all about.
As we focus on the beatitudes today, we hear Christ’s call to fly our “true colors.” In doing so, we will find a new outlook on life. Years ago, Leo Eddleman wrote: “Some Christians have just enough religion to make them miserable. They have enough to keep them from going to a night club or dance on Wednesday night but not quite enough to make them get up and go on to prayer meeting! Christ intends for his followers to be happy, but they can never be so as long as they remain in an eddy of indifference or worldliness.” (H. Leo Eddleman, Teachings of Jesus in Matt. 5-7, 16).
Friends, we’ll never be happy children of God until the character of Christ has taken hold of our lives. So, let’s explore the beatitudes—and our true colors.
I. Our True Colors Reflect An Inner Reality.
A. A citizen of God’s Kingdom recognizes his or her spiritual bankruptcy.
1. Being “poor in spirit” really means one thing—we know we have nothing to offer God.
2. We cannot bargain with God to get him to accept us; we cannot earn our way into the Kingdom of God—for while we may be able to control our actions, we cannot control our hearts.
3. The joyful news here, is that we finally understand that we do not have to earn our way in—entrance into the Kingdom of God is all about grace.
B. A citizen of God’s Kingdom knows sorrow in this life.
1. Using the strongest word for “mourn” in the Greek language (Barclay, DSB, v.1:93), Jesus pointed to a hard to accept truth—God does not exempt his children from pain.
2. The sorrow that comes into our lives may come from several source: life itself, loved ones, our own guilt before the Lord.
3. The joyful news, God stands ready to comfort our hearts as we turn to him: he helps us to bear the burdens this world brings, and he stands ready to forgive the repentant heart—and once we have been comforted, we can in turn reach out in love and compassion and help someone else find the comfort of God (2 Cor. 1:4)
C. A citizen of God’s Kingdom learns to trust in the Lord’s direction for life.
1. Meekness, or gentleness has nothing to do with weakness.
2. To be gentle, or meek, simply recognizes that Christ is Lord in our lives: here, we find no false pride; here, we find a yielded quality to life: believing that God is in control, we don’t have to “claw” our way to the top—we don’t have to run over others in order to get our own way: we become like a wild horse that has been tamed—strong and spirited, but yielding to the master’s hand.
3. The joyful news, that which is most meaningful in life will one day come to those who trust in the Lord’s leadership of their lives: the world we will inherit is so much greater than that in which we live today—all because we have learned to trust in God.
D. A citizen of God’s Kingdom longs for a closer walk with God.
1. Hungering and thirsting are ancient symbols for the one whose heart is set on God (cf. Ps. 42:1; Isa. 55:1)
2. Jesus chose survival images to show us that we cannot really live unless God is in our lives—and I believe that every man, woman, and child lives with spiritual hunger in their lives—the child of God, the citizen of the Kingdom has found where the needed supply exists.
3. The joyful news, God can fill the hungering heart—he can quench the thirsty soul.
II. Our True Colors Are Shown Through Outer Action.
A. A citizen of God’s Kingdom demonstrates forgiveness.
1. Mercy tends to go against human nature—when we are hurt, we want to hurt back.
2. The citizen of the Kingdom seeks to remember what God has done in his or her life, and that gives us grace to show mercy for others: did I deserve to enter the Kingdom of heaven? did I deserve the forgiveness of God? No—yet, in his grace that is what he has given me.