Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Some people hunger and thirst for success. Others hunger and thirst for approval, security, love or pleasure. Christians are unique because we hunger and thirst for righteousness, and will not be disappointed.
[W]hen Christ appears, we shall be like him (1 John 3:2), wrote John. He will not only perfect us physically and mentally, but also morally. We will never have to feel guilty, repent or ask forgiveness, because we will never sin. Then, at last, we will love God with all our hearts, and our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27). Then our salvation will be complete, and we will enjoy it forever.
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
The pure in heart don’t need proof that God exists, since they already see him. No one was more convinced of God than Jesus Christ, because he had the purest heart of all. Sin obscures our vision of God, like bugs on a windshield. But when our hearts are purified through repentance and prayer, we see God once again. One of the surest ways to strengthen our faith is to keep our hearts pure.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
These are surprising words from the most divisive person who ever lived. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household (Matthew 10:34-36).
Jesus’ first concern was not to reconcile the world to itself, but to reconcile sinners to God. [W]e have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1), wrote Paul. This may divide us from those who are opposed to God, but it is worth it. It is better to be at peace with God and at war with the world, than to be at peace with the world and at war with God.
But once we find peace with God, we should Make every effort to live in peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14) says Hebrews. And, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), wrote Paul. In order for this to happen, we may even have to apologize.
A friend of mine was a schoolyard bully, who came to Christ as a young adult. In prayer, one day, he thought of a kid from middle-school whom he used to pick on. He had not seen him for years, and could not remember his name, but he asked God to let their paths cross so that he could ask forgiveness.
To my friend’s surprise, he saw the person just two weeks later. He explained what Christ had done for him, and asked for his forgiveness. The man treated it lightly saying, kids will be kids. But my friend replied that it was not about being a kid. With tears he said, I was wrong and I ask you to forgive me. This, of course, the man was happy to do. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The devil is such a wicked being that he hates everything good. Anyone who does what is good, therefore, is likely to be persecuted simply because of righteousness. This occurs so often that it is frequently said, No good deed will go unpunished.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it’s between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway (Mother Teresa).
Matthew 5:17-18 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
The radical nature of Jesus’ teaching caused some to wonder about his view of the Scriptures. So Jesus stated clearly that none of God’s words would disappear until everything was accomplished. Through his sinless life, death and resurrection, Jesus accomplished everything God’s word required for him and his people. The old covenant will always be God’s word, but since it was fulfilled by Christ, it has now become obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), says Hebrews.
Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
This answers the important question, What does God require of me? God is a perfect being who would be less than perfect if he lowered his standard for sinners. God requires absolute perfection and commands nothing less. To the degree that we fall short of perfection, we are under the just condemnation of God.
A young pastor was invited to the home of a prominent family for Sunday lunch. As they were eating, Grandma asked: How good do you have to be to go to heaven? It got very quiet as everyone put down their fork and looked at the pastor. That’s easy, he said. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48).
But being perfect is not easy, even for serious Christians. Indeed, there is no one on earth . . . who does what is right and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20), wrote Solomon. And all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), wrote Paul. And If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves (1 John 1:8), wrote John.
This is why we cannot be saved apart from Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect life that God requires, and died on a cross for our sins. He fulfilled the perfect law of God, in precept and in penalty. The only way to be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect, is to be found in his perfect Son.
[I want to] be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith (Philippians 3:9), wrote Paul.
Whoever believes in Jesus Christ has the perfect righteousness that God requires, even though he is far from perfect in himself. He will present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:22), wrote Paul. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the only way to be saved.
Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Some people don’t spend time alone with God because they do not think it is worth it. Life is busy and there is much to do. Why spend time in prayer when we could do something productive? We might not say it publicly, but we may have thought it privately.
But according to Jesus, prayer pays. Our heavenly Father rewards those who pray to him. If you had an uncle who gave you a thousand dollars every time you came to visit, how often would you visit? God is richer than your uncle, and has promised to reward you for praying.
Until we believe that prayer is in our best interest, we will never pray much. But when we believe that God rewards us for praying, we will become remarkably prayerful. We can even remind God of his promise to reward us, then ask him to reward us by answering our prayers.
Reflection and Review
Was Jesus Christ a peacemaker?
How can Christians be perfect?
Why is prayer so difficult?