I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
Here Jesus is talking about a people who have no pride in spirit, but instead sense their need of a Savior. Notice it is at that time that we receive eternal life. Sure the conversion is still to be completed and spiritual victories are yet to be won. Yet Jesus clearly says that for the poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Not will be but is, now.
Throughout the conversion process and even when it is completed we are poor in spirit. We realized our righteousness is not our own, it is God’s. Our good deeds are actually the fruits of the spirit, not our works of the flesh.
For example, several years ago I was watching the Cosby Show. Vanessa was complaining to her dad, Bill Cosby that kids were calling her a snob because they had so much money. “Dad”, she sighed, ‘Why do we have to be so rich?” Bill Cosby replied as only he can, “Wait a minute Vanessa, your mother and I are rich. You have nothing!” Good point. The nice fancy home Vanessa lived in was her parents not hers. The healthy food she ate came from her folks. The expensive clothes she wore had been all paid by her mother and father as well. Her parents were rich. She had nothing. At least on her own she had nothing but by being in a relationship with her parents she was made rich. Likewise on our own we are spiritually broke. Everything good about us comes from the goodness of God living in us.
Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
The second step to a complete conversion is a true sorrow for sin. A truly converted person does not brag about all the money she swindled or men that she has been with. A truly converted person mourns because of what their sin has done to Christ and His cause and not what the sin had done to them personally. In Psalms 51 David says, “Against you and you only have I sinned.” What David is saying, is I have hurt You God. That is why I am sorry.
Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Meek people are teachable. Jesus does not require us to be perfect on day one of our conversion. Jesus accepts us just the way we are. If we are poor in spirit and mourn for our sins, then Jesus finds us teachable. Jesus spent His time on earth with druggies and perverts. They seemed to be losers in society except for one attribute which kept them from maturing into complete losers. They were teachable.
Jesus was a patient teacher. Jesus did not try to be patient nor did he pretend to be patient. He was patient. Jesus did not use the failures of others as opportunities to censor. He used them for an opportunity for Him to teach. He taught by example and often the same lesson over and over. He never censored the publicans and prostitutes as long as they were teachable. He did censor the self righteous Pharisees for not being teachable.
Blessed [are] they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6
Converted people don’t reach for the lowest standards. They reach for the righteousness of Christ. While many debate as to just how far sanctification can take us, Jesus promises to fill us with His righteousness. Ephesians 3:19 tells us we can be filled with all the fullness of God. Romans 8:4 tells us the righteousness of the law will be fulfilled in us, not just for us. For that to happen we must sense our need for it. We must hunger and thirst for the living water. Poor people in third world countries are not the only ones starving to death. Millionaires in California and Texas have starved to death as well, because some of them had a disease that took away their appetite and they didn’t eat. They ended up starving to death simply because they were not hungry. God can save us if we will just allow Him to make us hungry enough to eat the living bread.
So far as the conversion has progressed, God has not asked us to be self righteous, He has asked us to be poor in spirit. He has not asked us to be perfect but teachable. He has not demanded for us to know it all but to hunger and thirst for it all. He will teach. He will fill us. He will make us righteous. Jesus is truly patient because all He is truly wanting are opportunities to teach people who really want to learn. Patient is the teacher who sees the best in the student while seeking better ways and opportunities to teach.
Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew5:7
Notice after being filled with righteousness, the next step is not self righteousness but being merciful. A converted person always expects less from others and more from himself. A converted person knows that not only was Jesus treated the way I should be treated so I can be treated the way Jesus should be treated, but I can also treat my enemy just like I would treat Christ Himself, because Christ was treated just like my enemy should have been treated.
Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8
The purity in heart is the purity of our heavenly Teacher. Look at this passage in Ezekiel 36: 24-29 and see how it is accomplished in the student not just for the student. At the same time it is all accomplished by the Teacher not the student. “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.”
Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9
Jesus’ conversion process has us ending up with His character. He is the great Prince of Peace and He will teach us to be peacemakers. Converted people don’t break up families and homes or churches.
Peace does not mean calm and quiet. Peace means unity. Peace does not mean there is no storm. It just means there is a unity with God in the storm. Peace does not come from being proud and self righteous but by being poor in spirit, knowing you need to be in unity with God. Peace does not come from knowing it all but by being teachable. Peace comes from hungering and thirsting for God and His righteousness instead of hungering and thirsting for worldly accomplishments and worldly greatness.
True peace and contentment does not come from unity with your spouse. It comes from being in unity with God.
Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Matthew 5:10-12
Notice that now that the conversion is complete, now the persecution has come. Why? Because we have raised the standard. When I was in 9th grade algebra our teacher graded on the curve and counted the highest score as 100%. So if the highest grade was 85 and mine was 60 then my percentage was 60 out of 85 instead of 60 out of 100. We only had one problem. A girl in our class kept getting 100 out of 100 and so the standard was never lowered. She was not popular on the days we got out tests back because she would not lower the standard for the rest of us. Likewise when we have been converted and we raise the standard above the worldly standard the world will persecute us. The church will never see persecution as long as it watches the same movies the world watches, dresses the same way the world dresses and eats the same way the world eats. Persecution will never come as long as we don’t make the world look any less holy than it is. In the book of Revelation the persecution comes after God’s people have been sealed with His character. A character far above the world. The same is seen here in the Beatitudes. Once the conversion is complete, here comes the persecution. And Jesus says “Rejoice!” The kingdom is at hand and it is yours!