1. This was Jesus's first message in announcing the coming promised kingdom to Israel and that He was the Messiah. The blue print of the spiritual attitudes of those who would make up the Kingdom of God.
2. Jesus was not saying, "Do these things and merit heaven." He was saying, if you believe and trust God He will save you and this will mark your life. These will be the principles you live by.
3. There is a two fold message or pattern to each B-Attitude.
In Verse 7 the message is that to be saved we seek mercy from God and then as a child of God we will show mercy to others.
4. Jesus was rebuking the superficially and externally religious. He was addressing those who outwardly made a show of religion that did not come from a change in one's heart..
Matt. 23:27, He called the scribes and Pharises, hypocrites, whited sepulchers, beautiful on the outside, but inside full of dead men's bones and uncleanness. In other words their actions did not come from their hearts, but we motivated by their pride and their wanting the praise of men. The were proud of their religion. Their pride was in their own supposed righteousness and being better that other people. God's grace and mercy was not a part of their religion. To them sin was what other people did who are not as good as their were. The looked down on everyone else and in their own minds elevated themselves to the point they thought God was lucky to have them. Sadly, they were unsaved, lost in their sins and blind to the truth's and true rigtheousness of God. This is why Jesus was preaching this message. He was address their spiritual need which was to see their sin and pride and in humility turn to God for His grace and mercy.
John the Baptist, called some of those who came to be baptized, a generation of vipers and rebuked them saying, "who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore, fruits befitting of repentance" (Matt. 3:7-8).
5. You see what matters is what is on the inside. You can put on an act, a show or outward appearance. But it is still just a show.
As bad as we think that is we too can represent ourselves as being more than we are. We are all subject to outwardly representing ourselves as being more than what is truly in our hearts. It is certainly something we must guard against.
6. Jesus in the B-Attitudes is saying the believer must be broken in spirit, mournful, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful pure in heart and peaceable.
All these are internal qualities. These are like a barometer which indicates the state of our heart. A person who loves the Lord will outwardly be merciful to others.
Further, Christ is concerned with what produces our behavior. It is worthless to put on a show of righteous acts if you do them for the wrong reasons.
Giving, attending services, praying, singing, holding a position in church, or helping others is what a true believer should do, but to do it for personal recognition is a sorry motive.
To do it to serve our Savior, and worship Him and edify and lift up other believers because we love God and our brethren is the correct motive.
Only what is done for the Lord will last. The best we can do without God is worthless.
Like a church treasurer in a church I knew back East. He was full of pride. He was ugly in questioning every dime spend and gave everyone a hard time. He clearly showed little love or care for the church members and treated people like they were out to steal money from the church. He acted put out when presented a receipt for something that was purchased for the church.
The problem was a heart problem as clearly his heart was not right with God. Why did he bother to do the job? The church for some can be a stage to parade on, to show off, to be praised. You see the point is not what we do, but why we do it.
7. The B-Attitudes address our hearts. It calls to question why we do what we do.
Martin Lloyd-Jones: "We are not meant to control our Christianity: our Christianity is rather meant to control us."
In the Old Testament God said He was not interested in the rituals of sacrifice and of the blood of bull and goats. Heb. 10:4-6
He is not interested likewise in religious activity if ones heart is not right.
8. One commentator said, "You need to be spiritually bankrupt, you need to recognize that your are destitute beggar who have nothing to offer God. Your hope is to see your true condition and reach our your hand as a beggar who can't do anything to help himself"
It is not normal humanly to seek to feel like this. We are repealed at the thought of considering ourself as beggars. Of having needs we can not fill without help.
Many close their minds to such thoughts and miss the founding principles on which God is building His kingdom.
You see this is reality! This is the raw truth. This exposes hypocrisy and strips away the masks we wear.
I. What is Mercy?
A. False Secular View: If you are good to others they will be good to you. Shakespeare's thoughts expressed this idea.
Mercy is the most becoming thing a king can wear.
Mercy can be humanistic: Like the rich, look down on the poor, and say you poor things, you cannot do for yourself, so I who am so much better, will reach down and help you....now kiss my feet.
B. False Religious view: If I do this for God, He will do something for me. If you are good to others they will be good to you.
It is wishful thinking to believe that because you show mercy, others will be merciful to you.
ILLUS: While in Beaver, a man was killed on I15 south of Cedar City in the late 80's. This man who was a carpenter had fallen on hard times in California and was traveling to Idaho to a new job so he could feed his family. He had little money as sleeping in a sleeping bag to save money. He had compassion on a stranger who was hitchhiking and stopped and gave him a ride. When the good Samaritan stopped at the rest area, the hitchhiker stabbed him with a knife, wrapped his body in the sleeping bag and dumped him beside the road. I was working as a reporter for the local paper took pictures of the morbid scene beside the Interstate.
C. Greek word for "mercy" is "ele e mones." It is used only twice in the New Testament.
We find it in only in Matt. 5:7 and Hebrews 2:17.
"Wherefore, in all things it behoved Him to be made like His brethren, that He might be merciful and faithful High Priest."
The illustration is that Christ "intercedes" for us. That is His mercy. It means to "succor the afflicted" to give help to the needy and to rescue the miserable.
Basically it means to show mercy and benefit someone else because there is a need. The mercy Jesus is speaking of is one is affected by the sufferings of others and seeks to alleviate that suffering. It ignores the cost of the help.
James 2:15-16. "If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, by ye warmed and filled notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit?"
Verse 17, continues and makes a comparison between mercy and faith. "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
Mercy in the Bible is more than feeling pity, concern or sympathy. It is putting concern into action. What is the worth of pity or feeling sorry for a person. It is worthless if it does not produce some action of benefit to the one who as a need?
Faith without works is dead. Dead people have all the organs all their body, .yet dead people do nothing. Their spirit is not there, they have no life.
Where there is life there will be action. Where there is a true spirit of mercy within a person there will be a showing of mercy....a benefit to the person.
II. How is Mercy Shown?
A. Mercy meets the need of another. It is not an act of merit. You do not ask the person who receives the benefit to deserve it. Whether they deserve it or not is not in the picture.
B. Also not in the picture is personal benefit.
1. If I give to the poor and do not do so to get in return a plague to hang on the wall that says what a great thing I did. Or a letter of recognition for frame.
2. I have been in offices, where the person had a picture of themselves with a well known person. Like the president. Sometimes it is a letter. They got it by giving money to their campaign. Carolyn and I got a Christmas card from George W. Bush because I was somewhat active in the campaign.
C. Luke 10:30-35 the Lord gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritan was a man who felt mercy in his heart.
When he came across this Jew who had been beaten, robbed and left for dead did not judge the Jew to see if he was worthy of his help. He knew the Jews hated the Samaritans. Yet, without regards for the Jews prejudices he bound his wounds, poured oil on them, took him to an inn and paid for his room, offering further to take on the total expense what ever it was. He did not say around and wait till the Jew could recover and repay him or even thank him for his help. If left and went on his way. His actions showed his heart. He was a man could cared for others.
Mercy benefits another. It is not the product of a religious duty.
Doing something because it is ones duty, could possibly make a person do something they really did not have their heart in.
D. True mercy comes from a attitude of the heart. For the Christian true mercy comes when one realizes the mercy that God has shown to us. God is mercy and grace meaning unmerited favor.
True mercy, comes from one who has been shown mercy, and understands what it means to be destitute.
Those that understand need can best, meet the need in others.
Christ died for the sinner. It was an act of mercy. Helping one who could not help his self. For the Christian mercy should be done to glorify God; that is, in obedience to his commandments, and with a desire that he should be honored; and feeling that we are benefiting one of his creatures.
A lost man can show mercy, however the motivation for mercy for is centered in that persons righteous and benevolence. The Christian's motivation is different. It is not directed towards himself, but comes from a desire to honor God.
The one who truly receives the mercy of Christ . . . then begins to understand. You see they know what it means to be needy in sin and under its penalty.
They have experienced God's loving mercy, so they in turn they extend mercy to others.
Nowhere does the Christian imitate God more or have a greater testimony than in showing mercy. Nothing more delights God than in His children exercising mercy. SEE Matthew 25:34-40.
E. Mercy forgives, it holds no grudge. It requires no response in return.
It seeks the benefit of others. It will not attempt to destroy others with ugly words or to scorn or belittle those who they help.
ILLUS: Once I made a mistake and drove on a dirt road after a rain. The dirt was soft and I got stuck. When I called a friend with a truck to help they laughed and had a great time belittling me for being so stupid. Well, I should have known better and I admit that. But their help was belittling and embarrassing to me.
The person who is merciful wants help and to build up the other person, and certainly not tear them down.
The merciful guard their tongue and guard their actions.
It benefits others.
True mercy, comes from God and He is the Father and source of mercy. Only mercy that comes from a love of God is lasting and honors God.
You can not be saved by being merciful or doing merciful deeds. Monasteries grew out of this false idea and so have many denominations of churches.
In Matthew 18, Christ told of a man who was forgiven of a great debt by a king to whom he owned money. Later this man who was shown mercy put a person in jail because they owed him some small amount of money.
Folks the person who had the debt paid for never benefited spiritually from it. It did not change him.
Christ has paid our sin debt. He is merciful and wants to forgive all men. Yet a person must let Him.
You must be humble enough to accept the truth, that you are a sinner and destitute. You then must reach out and let Christ save you.
You can do that now in the quietness and privacy of your own heart.
Then you need to publicly proclaim that you are now God's. You have received his mercy and therefore you are merciful to those around you.
You see the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of persons who in receiving mercy reflect that mercy to others and therefore bring honor and glory to our Lord and Savior.