Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

Yesterday we looked at the first two blessings that Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount. Here we will look at the 3rd-7th. These I put together here because they are somewhat related to one another. Their relationship is interesting. They have to do with character traits that God’s people have. Those who receive the blessings Christ gives here, are those who believe.

In Galatians 5:22-23 we read the fruits of the Spirit. It is those characteristics that God the Holy Spirit works into the lives of believers. These are developed and grown throughout the life of the believer. This list, given by the Apostle Paul, is very, very similar to the list of characterics of those who receive the blessings here.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control….” – Galatians 5:22-23a

If one considers that meekness was considered to be gentleness and self-control then the similarities are more than just a coincidence.

The Blessed are the Meek Ones (Matthew 5:5)

I almost titled this section “The Blessed Are Those With Redeemed Relationships”, but I didn’t want to change Jesus’s words. Yet, we don’t really understand the word “meek” in our day very well. A person who is soft-spoken or just extremely quiet is oftentimes considered meek. But, in Scripture Moses was considered meek and Jesus was considered meek. It is hard, using today’s definition of the word meek to say that a meek person led the people of Israel out of Egypt or flipped over the money changers tables in the Temple.

Meek, as Jesus was using it, means gentleness and self-control. Here is an interesting question, can you name the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.

The blessed ones are those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. The first two that we have looked at deal, a lot with a person’s first coming to faith but the attitudes remain throughout their lives. We first see our need for the Savior and trust in Christ, though we never lose our understanding of our need for the Savior. We mourn over our sin and it brings us to Christ, yet we always will mourn over our sin until we reach the New Heavens and New Earth. Now, Matthew 5:5-9 are attitudes that the Holy Spirit works in the life of a believer throughout the rest of their lives. In other words, they are the fruits of the Spirit’s work in your life. And you who God works in will also receive the blessing of eternal life.

Here, we find that the meek ones will inherit the Earth. Meekness, as was just mentioned is not about being quiet and reserved as much as it is about being gentle and kind. Yet, in this life these are not the people that we see owning the Earth. The Earth, as we see it in our lives and in history has been run by tyrants and ruled by the power hungry. Yet, Jesus turns it all upside down and says that it is the meek who will, in the end, inherit the Earth.

Meekness has to do with how we relate to people. It is an attitude of gentleness and self-control toward others. This is a normative behavior for those who are in God’s Kingdom, because the Holy Spirit has worked it into their lives.

When I was a teenager, before I became a believer, I was not meek. I wanted to rise above everyone I could, so what did I do? I was a bit of a bully. I was a mean and oftentimes angry kid. I remember yelling at referees and pushing people around. Something happened after I met Jesus. I’m not saying that I am the picture of perfected gentleness and self-control in my behavior toward others. Anyone who knows me well would be able to say that I definitely have a lot of improvements to make in this area, but I am saying that the Holy Spirit has worked and is working this meekness into my life.

Those who are in Christ have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Gentleness and self-control are fruits of that work. The meek have seen their sinfulness, mourned their sinfulness, and turned to Christ for comfort and have been brought into the Kingdom of Heaven and are transformed. And the blessing given to the meek ones is that they will be the ones, not the powerful, who will inherit the Earth.

The Blessed Ones Long For Righteousness (Matthew 5:6)

Here again, we are looking at a characteristic that the Spirit has worked into the lives of believers. God’s Spirit gives to God’s people a desire for righteousness, that is right acting in their own lives and upon the Earth.

In Jesus’ day, the people of God were looking and longing for the day when the Messiah would come and make all things right. They were looking forward to that day when righteousness would reign upon the Earth. And Jesus says to them that this longing would be fulfilled.

Hungering and thirsting is a strong desire for something. If I get hungry and thirsty enough I can’t think about much else. And those people who have that strong, God-given desire for righteousness in their lives and globally will have that desire satisfied.

Here there is unrighteousness all around us and we have a desire to see righteousness upon the Earth. The believer longs for the day when Christ will return and bring His justice and righteousness. We long for the day when the guilty are punished and peace and righteousness flourish all around us. That longing will be satisfied now, with peace with God and in its ultimate fulfillment in the New Heavens and New Earth.

The Blessed Ones Are Merciful (Matthew 5:7)

The people of God have been shown so much mercy. They have seen their own sinfulness, they mourn over their sin and are now meek in their own relationships with others. And they are people who show mercy. God’s people, through the work of the Spirit in revealing our own sinfulness and growth through work of the Holy Spirit, makes us a people who are merciful.

We see this in the New Testament often. The apostles would often call people to be merciful to people in different situations. Mercy is to be shown toward widows and orphans (James 1:27). Paul repeatedly calls upon churches to show mercy to other churches that are suffering.

The point is that mercy is a characteristic of believers. And, it is something that the Holy Spirit cultivates in our lives. And the promise is that you will yourself receive mercy.

God works mercy in the lives of believers and shows them mercy by saving them from their sin and the punishment of it.

The Blessed Ones Are Pure (Matthew 5:8)

The purity here mentioned is twofold. First, Christ has purified us as our Great High Priest. We were born with the stain of sin on our lives and continued in the rebellion that had been passed down to us. Like fish in a tainted river, it was the stream in which we lived and moved every waking hour. Yet, Christ cleanses us from that stain. He purified us through His death on the cross. Our sin had left a horrid stain and Christ purified us.

Apart from salvation accomplished in Christ no one can see God and live. We are rebel sinners who deserve God’s wrath and justice and that’s what we get from Him apart from Christ. The pure in heart will see God. That sounds like good news at first, but what we see in Scripture is that we are not pure in heart. If you’re looking for someone who is pure of heart on their own then you won’t find it.

However, God made a way for us to be pure. His Son died on the cross and rose from the dead accomplishing our purity. We are purified through the finished work of Christ. But those who are pure in heart will see God. This purity is accomplished by Christ.

We have also been transformed. God has changed the heart of His people in such a way that they will have a devotion to God and His Word, to God’s people, to God’s Kingdom. This devotion also leads to inward purity.

The Blessed Ones Are Peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)

Peace, what a wonderful word it is. In a world where war and power seem to get people everything that they want it is odd to hear that the peacemakers are the ones who will be called “sons of God”.  Again, Christ accomplished peace with God for us. There was animosity between us and God because we were rebels against Him. Christ came to die and make peace with God on our behalf. We now have peace with God because of what Christ has done for us. And because we have peace with God, we desire to live at peace with those around us.

So, we have peace with God and strive for peace with those who are around us.

Again, peace is one of the characteristics that are mentioned both here and in Galatians as a fruit of the Spirit. And this also helps us to make sense of the repeated demand in Scripture to make peace with people and avoid those people who cause dissension.

The person who constantly must be at war with people, especially their brothers and sisters in Christ may not be a believer. Peace with God will manifest itself in peace with others. Our youth ministry and especially our church should be a place of peace and love like lost people have never seen.

Concluding Thoughts

When we look at these characteristics and the blessings that Jesus gives we begin to understand something most amazing. Christ has saved us from our sin and the Holy Spirit works in us cultivating a righteous character. Our salvation is not only from Hell but also from sin. Our salvation from sin is something that involves both our being declared righteous before God (justification), but also our being made more and more like Christ in this life (sanctification).

R. Dwain Minor