Matthew 5:2-12: The Beatitudes (getting a heart check-up)
We all want a year that will be a good foundation for the future, to live a year that glorifies God. How can we ensure this? We need a heart check-up to make sure our heart is right, for "out of the heart flow the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Our life flows out of our heart: 'For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things' (Matthew 12:34,35).
As our physical life depends on the health of our physical heart, so our spiritual life depends on the health of our spiritual heart. Is it soft or hardened in pride and unbelief? We need sometimes to have a heart check-up to make sure our heart is right, and to make the necessary changes. We do this by meditating on the Words of God and receiving them into our heart: 'My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life' (Proverbs 4:20-23).
Let us do a heart check-up together:
The BEATTITUDES in Matthew 5:2-12 give the 8 key attitudes that please God and make way for God's blessing. Their opposites are in Matthew 23, the 8 woes that Jesus pronounced on the Pharisees for displaying the opposite attitudes.
1. The ATTITUDE of FAITH - TRUSTING in God alone rather than in self-righteousness.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
This is the fundamental attitude of FAITH-DEPENDENCE on God rather than self-reliance and pride. Without this we cannot even enter the Kingdom. When you come to God, what do you carry in your hand? What are you trusting in? Your good-works? Your riches? Your strength? Your self-righteousness? If so - you are 'rich in spirit', you are full of yourself and your accomplishments and you disqualify yourself from God's blessing. But if you come to God realising that you cannot save yourself, that you cannot earn or deserve salvation but you simply call on the name and blood of Jesus, then every blessing in the Kingdom is given to you. All of heaven’s resources are available to the poor in spirit. "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the Cross I cling."
It is this way because all God's blessing comes to us IN CHRIST, through the DIVINE EXCHANGE paid for by the Blood of Jesus, so our own merits do not come into it. We must repent of self-reliance and humbly receive what Jesus has done as a free-gift.We make exchanges all the time of equal value (in shopping, in giving our labour), but God has arranged for an unequal exchange, for in truth all we can give Him is:
Our sin and He exchanges that for His righteousness
Our sickness and He exchanges that for His health
Our death and He exchanges that for His life
Our weakness and He exchanges that for His strength
Our shame and He exchanges that for His glory
Our rejection and He exchanges that for His acceptance
Our poverty and He exchanges that for His riches
Our curse and He exchanges that for His blessing
Our condemnation and He exchanges that for His forgiveness.
How is this acheived?
Imagine you came to buy a car and in exchange you dumped a pile of manure. Who would accept such an exchange? They would have to bear the cost, and pay the difference! That's what God did on the Cross:
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Corinthians 5:21).
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (2Corinthians 8:9).
"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree') that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus'the Blood of Jesus" (Galatians 3:13,14).
All our sin (manure) was put on Him and His righteousness in return was given to on us (a great-exchange!) and what was the cost to God, the price paid to establish this transaction? - THE BLOOD OF JESUS.
Jesus said on the Cross: Tetelestai = It is done = the price is paid in full! The exchange is made in HIM. So now when we come to God empty handed (realising we are poor in spirit) yet pleading the blood, trusting, depending in Him alone for salvation, accepting His work for us,we are put into Christ and all the blessings are transferred to our account: "theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Then if we continue in this attitude of faith (trusting in God not self-righteous) we will continue to enjoy the blessings.
We say: "In myself I am poor/weak, but in Him I am strong, blessed by the Divine Exchange through the Blood of Jesus." That’s why we must be careful not to boast when living in blessing and feeling superior to those who are struggling - we boast only in the Cross of Christ our Lord.
PRAYER: "Lord, I am trusting in You alone for the blessings of this new year."
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
This speaks of REPENTANCE for sin. This mourning is a heart-attitude of being cut up in our heart by our sin feeling how we have hurt God and others. Only then will we truly turn and change. God is ever-willing to forgive but for our heart's sake we should not cover our sin but feel its sinfulness and acknowledge it to God or else we will become hard in heart. When we do confess our sin in this way, the Holy-Spirit comforts and lifts us up forgiven and cleansed.
PRAYER: "Lord, let my heart be soft this year, that I may be quickly convicted when I sin."
3. HUMILITY: "Blessed are the MEEK, for they will inherit the earth"
First this means to be GENTLE and TEACHABLE. It is not weakness but the attitude of submitting to one another in the Lord. It is knowing we don't have all the answers and we need to learn from others and fit in with them. It honours others’ expertise in their area. Recognise who knows their stuff (and has proved it) in each area and learn from them. It is the Key to Success on earth (to ‘inherit the earth’) for doors will close on you if you are stubborn and hard to correct. "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (James 1:19).
It is also the humility of being a servant.
PRAYER: "Lord, let the humility of Jesus be seen in me this year. Let me find greatness by serving others."
4. SPIRITUAL ENTHUSIASM: "Blessed are those who HUNGER and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."
We all know what emptiness is. If we present our VOID to God, He will fill it. But if you fill it instead by materialism you will stay empty. This hunger for righteousness is enthusiasm for God, His Word, prayer, Church. We should not just do these things but do them willingly (Isa 1:19) to enjoy the blessing and be filled with God’s life.
PRAYER: "Lord let this year be a year filled with Your Presence. Lord, I desire You to fill me continually."
5.MERCY: "Blessed are the MERCIFUL for they will be shown mercy"
This is generosity of spirit towards people when they have hurt us or when they are in weakness:
a, FORGIVENESS intead of determination to make them pay, and bring them in judgement, always keeping a record of their sins.
b, Helping the weak, visiting orphans and widows. Mercy is NOT saying: "you should have more faith or you would not be in this mess!" That’s judgement not mercy!
PRAYER: "Lord, let me be big-hearted, merciful and generous towards those in weakness."
6. SINGLE-HEARTED: "Blessed are the PURE in heart, for they will see God." This is our priorities: putting GOD FIRST. Let no idols take first place. If we seek God first, all other things will fit into place (Matthew 6:33). When you give an excuse like: 'I don't have time to worship God/pray/read the Word/ go to church ....because I have to do this' - then you have just told us your idol!
PRAYER: "Lord, I put You first this year. I cast down all idols at Your feet."
7. "Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS, for they will be called sons of God." "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:18). Peacemaking refers to our speech. We can either start fires of destruction by evil speech or bring wholeness and encouragement to people (James 3). God loves to see His people peace-making (especially in witnessing we bring people to peace with God), not trouble-making.
PRAYER: "Lord, I give You my tongue. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight."
8. COURAGE: "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven ... great is their reward in heaven."
This is to have the COURAGE of our convictions, to stand for good against the world’s pressure and scorn, taking the consequences of their disapproval and rejection, knowing that God sees and rewards.
PRAYER: "Lord, strengthen me to stand for You and Your truth this year."