Summary: Those who long for what is right will not be overcome by what is wrong. The Definition, Desire, and Delight of Righteousness.
Living in the Father’s Favor: Wanting What Is Right
[Show Sermon on the Mount, Matt. Video through 5:12]
Intro: As Jesus rubbed shoulders with people, He met those who were discouraged and had been beaten up by life and by others. He came across those who were so poor in spirit that they had trouble looking Him in the eye. He encountered people whose spirits were so weighed down with grief that He wondered how they could cope. He saw men and women who possessed a great inner strength, but allowed the other person to have their own way, rather than shoulder their way in to get what they supposedly had coming to them. They were meek – willing to keep their God-given strength in check, using it to help, not harm others.
-In Matthew 5, as Jesus sat down and taught both His disciples and the crowd of common people who followed Him, He started right where the listeners were at. They were poor in spirit, grieving, meek, wishing for justice and wanting to see things made right around them. Some had been seriously wronged by the Roman govt. and by others. Some had been mistreated because of their loyalty to God.
-I believe that part of what Jesus was doing in this sermon was affirming and encouraging these people. He was letting them know that God had not forgotten about them in the midst of their grief or ill treatment, or through the hardships of life. Rather, it was people just like them who found the favor and blessing of God the Father. It was lowly people like these who made up the membership of the kingdom of heaven.
-Jesus knows who He is dealing with. He knows what you’ve been through and what you’re going through right now. This morning He would tell you that God hasn’t forgotten about you, and that as you start right where you are and respond to Him, you will find His favor right in the middle of your circumstances and problems. Blessed are those who have it rough but trust in God because God will come through for them.
-The main thought of today’s message has to do with craving what is right.
Prop: Those who long for what is right will not be overcome by what is wrong.
TS: Let’s go ahead and take a brief look at what craving righteousness is all about.
I. The Definition of Righteousness
-Those who are hungry and thirsty to see and experience righteousness are blessed because they will be filled or satisfied. Naturally, we have to start by answering the obvious question, “What is righteousness here in Matt. 5?” It is difficult to know for certain what Jesus was aiming at here, but it likely includes personal righteousness that comes through God’s grace and repentance. We can enjoy righteous standing before God when we come to Him in faith, believing and receiving His truth for our lives. His truth tells us that He sent His divine Son Jesus to this earth to restore us to right relationship with God. His death paid for our sins so we can be cleared of all wrong and be able to approach God freely. There is also righteous character that flows out of a close relationship with God and is expressed through obedience and right living. James, the half brother of Jesus made it clear in the book he wrote that “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:17).
-In the Bible, righteousness is also used to describe justice. Blessed are those who long for justice in this world. This perhaps is where the tension comes in. If we are longing and waiting to see justice in this world, we might be waiting for a long time. We are not likely to see widespread justice until Jesus returns to this earth to establish His physical kingdom. And perhaps that is the answer we need to hold onto. There is no other place in the Bible where we find Jesus promising justice in this lifetime. Therefore, we must conclude that His promise of the fulfillment of justice refers to the time when He comes back to make all things right and brings justice back to this world.
-Does that mean that we should just give up in the fight for what is right? NO! But we do need to remember who we are fighting. We are fighting a system of evil that will remain strong until Christ returns. The righteous difference we can make will generally not be found in sweeping reforms, new legislation, or in overthrowing governments. The difference we can make will usually occur one life at a time. You can bring hope and encouragement to someone who has been oppressed or defrauded. You can show mercy to those around you and have a righteous effect on your environment. God may call you to do other things that will help those who can’t seem to find any justice. Just listen to Him and be obedient and He will give you the direction you need.