January 7 I Monday
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” —Matthew 5:6-8
If the first three beatitudes capture what we must come to terms with to become a Christian, the next three describe evidences that we have become a Christian. The first evidence is a healthy appetite for righteousness, which is doing what is right. Jesus did not say, “Blessed are those who are righteous” but those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness.” The evidence of Jesus Christ in our lives is not that we are perfect, for we are all characterized by failure in this life, but that we have an appetite to do right. From this appetite comes a deep sense of fullness and satisfaction with Christ, “who has become for us… our righteousness...” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
One of the expressions of an appetite for righteousness is mercy. Just as Christ is a friend of sinners and takes the side of the broken, weary and defeated, He places a disposition of mercy in our hearts. As believers, the condition to receiving from God and maintaining a growing relationship with Him is mercifully giving to others. Our love for God will be expressed in sharing His love for the world and ministering to it, which takes the conscious choice to “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).
The sixth beatitude, pureness of heart, comes from the Greek word katharos, which is again not about perfection but about being unmixed with other things. It is to narrow our interests to the interests of Christ, to say with Paul, “But one thing I do…I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). We cannot allow ourselves to be pulled in two directions because, in a divided heart, our concern for secular issues will always overcome the sacred. But when we allow Christ to produce in us a pure heart, we will see God in everything. We will share His heart for a broken world and be moved to action on its behalf.
What unites these three beatitudes is they are all evidences that God’s presence is at work within us. They are not values or qualities we must produce but signs that God has “moved in” and is transforming our character. As believers, should we find ourselves with little appetite for righteousness, lacking in mercy or divided in heart, we might be out of step in our relationship with God. If that is us, then Paul’s word for us is, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), for it is in living by the Spirit that He produces His fruit within us.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank You for the evidence when You are at work in our lives. Grow in me a deeper appetite for righteousness, a greater disposition of mercy and an increasingly pure heart.